Campaign against Plastic Pollution

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Plastic has become a necessity in man’s life all around the world. Plastics are in everything; your toothbrush, mechanical pencil, cell phone, milk jug, and even your face wash. This “versatile, lightweight, flexible, moisture-resistant, strong, and relatively inexpensive” substance has dire consequences on the ocean environment because it is extremely durable and non-biodegradable (Le Guern, 2018). Consequently, plastic is found floating around in our oceans for decades. Some countries are enforcing taxes, laws, and bans on microplastics (such as plastic packaging and microbeads), and educating the public to change our wasteful habits.

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Nonetheless, plastic pollution continues to overtake the ocean.

In 2009, Maziar Movassaghi the director of The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), showed seawater sampled by Project Kaisei (“a team of scientists, environmentalists, and ocean lovers studying marine debris in the Pacific Ocean”) from the Great North Garbage Patch (large mass of floating debris across the Pacific Ocean), revealing murky water with hundreds of fragmented plastics pieces inside (The California Department of Toxic Substances Control, 2009). Every animal in the ocean is swallowing this contaminated water “instilled with toxic chemicals from plastic decomposition” (Le Guern, 2018). At least 267 different animal species, (whales, sea turtles, and Albatross birds, and zooplankton) are greatly affected by the plastic plaguing the earth (Le Guern, 2018). Often suffering from entanglement and ingestion of plastic debris, causing many animals to die from starvation and/or suffocation (Le Guern, 2018). As the world’s population continues to increase, so does its demand for plastic; increasing the amount of plastic pollution accumulating in the ocean continuously. To solve this issue, actions need to be taken globally. Governments in every city, state, and country must change their wasteful habits to improve the health of our environment.

In recent years, several countries have become aware of this issue and are making changes to diminish their contribution to the environment. The United States of America currently has hardly any country-wide enforced laws/bans against single-use plastic. Trevor Nace, a geologist, who received his PhD from Duke University states “While many countries around the world have taken steps to ban plastic bags country-wide, the United States has taken a piecemeal approach” (Nace 2019). The only public law in place is the “Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015” (114th Congress 2015). Beginning on July 1, 2017, the manufacturing of “rinse-off cosmetics that contain intentionally-added plastic microbeads” was banned, slowly eliminating them from cosmetics (114th Congress 2015). Removing microbeads from entering the ocean’s environment will reduce the number of animals consuming these small toxic plastics found in the ocean, but will not decrease the amount of pollution accumulating around the world. Granting this is a step in the right direction, more needs to be done and fast.

Although, there are not many country-wide laws regulating the production, consumption, and disposal of plastics, many states, and cities in America have created laws and bans in an attempt to improve the oceans’ environment. Hawaii and California, are the only two out of fifty states with statewide bans on plastic bags (Nace 2019). Few cities across the country have chosen to “ban or heavily tax single-use plastic” (Nace 2019). According to National Geographic, Seattle bans plastic straws and utensils (effective July 1, 2018), and Washington, D.C. bans plastic straws (begins January 1, 2019) (Howard 2019).

Joseph Curtin, a research fellow at University College Cork, Institute of International and European Affairs, and a member of the Government’s Climate Change Advisory Council, illustrates how Ireland introduced a 15-cent plastic bag fee in 2002 (raised to 22 cents in 2007), which has successfully reduced the annual bag usage from nearly “350 to 14 per person by 2012” (2018). Illuminating how much a small fee can change the habits of so many. Helen Tunnicliffe, a press officer and science writer at the IIASA, with a BSc (Hons) in Marine Biology from the University of Liverpool, UK, reports that the United Kingdom is also putting forth the effort to “reduce ‘avoidable’ plastic waste”, by charging for plastic bags, increasing the number of water fountains, and banning microbeads (effective January 9th 2018) (2018). China also banned plastic bags, prohibiting businesses from manufacturing, selling, or using bags less than 0.025 millimeters thick (effective June 1st, 2008) (White Pollution Banned in China 2008).

As you can see there are very few countries taking action to reduce their plastic consumption. Although these efforts are strongly appreciated, they simply are not enough to significantly improve the oceans environment. The National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis at the University of California, Santa Barbara, predicts plastic pollution in the marine environment will increase significantly by 2025, if no waste management improvements are created (National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis 2015). Meaning, plastic regulations need to be immediately established to seriously change our oceans for the better, before the pollution becomes even more detrimental. To enforce any regulation, people need to be educated. According to the leading national nonprofit organization; Keep America Beautiful, “most law enforcement officers and lawyers do not receive extensive education about environmental crimes” (2018). Allowing room for mistakes and further damage to our environment. Therefore, officers in charge of enforcing environmental laws need to be well educated and capable of identifying crimes. Professional Education Programs, “providing in-depth education about the laws and ordinances that apply to litter and litter-related crimes”, and the importance of enforcing these laws, have been implemented in The Texas Illegal Dumping Resource Center, The National District Attorneys Association (NDAA), El Paso, Texas County, and many other states (Keep America Beautiful 2018). The public will also need to be educated to understand the importance of regulating plastic, the “PalmettoPride (S.C. KAB affiliate) has several school-based education programs geared for all ages”, to recognize this (Keep America Beautiful 2018).

Country-wide microplastics and single-use plastic bags have not been passed for multiple reasons. Businesses complain it would lose. To solve this rising issue, laws centered around single-use plastic and environmental education need to be enforced in every country. If a national law was passed, prohibiting the production of single-use plastics and microplastics, recycling facilities would have less jammed equipment and contaminated items, significantly less petroleum would be used, people will learn how wasteful and unnecessary single-use plastic is, biodegradable options will become prevalent, and most importantly the accumulation of plastics in our oceans killing marine life and the environment will reduce, allowing ocean clean-up projects to take place. Therefore,

Ban plastic bags, bottles, coffee cups, straws etc… Implement Community Improvement Programs, When a community is proud of its environment, it is more likely to protect and care for it.

Works Cited

Curtin, Joseph. “Ireland Can Lead Charge in War against Plastic.” The Irish Times, The Irish Times, 31 Jan. 2018,

Le Guern, Claire. “When The Mermaids Cry: The Great Plastic Tide.” Plastic Pollution, Santa Aguila Foundation, Mar. 2018,

Nace, Trevor. “Here’s A List Of Every City In The US To Ban Plastic Bags, Will Your City Be Next?” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 21 Jan. 2019,

National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis. “New in Science: First Estimate to Quantify Plastics Flowing into the Ocean.” NCEAS, National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, Ocean Conservancy, University of California, Santa Barbara, and the State of California., 12 Feb. 2015,

The California Department of Toxic Substances Control. “P2 Week – Green Chemistry Can Help Keep The Seas Free of Debris and Pollution.” DTSC, The California Department of Toxic Substances Control, 2009,

Tunnicliffe, Helen. “UK’s 25-Year Plastic Waste Plan: Aims to Reduce ‘Avoidable’ Plastic Waste by 2042.” TCE: The Chemical Engineer, no. 920, Feb. 2018, p. 12. EBSCOhost,

“White Pollution Banned in China.” Pollution Engineering, vol. 43, no. 3, Mar. 2008, p. 10. EBSCOhost,

Keep America Beautiful . “Enforcement and Prosecution Guide.” KAB, Keep America Beautiful , 2018,

Howard, Brian Clark, et al. “A Running List of Action on Plastic Pollution.” National Geographic, National Geographic, 11 Jan. 2019,

“White Pollution Banned in China.” Pollution Engineering, vol. 43, no. 3, Mar. 2008, p. 10. EBSCOhost,

114th Congress. “H.R.1321 – Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015.”, Rep. Pallone, Frank, Jr., 28 Dec. 2015,

Rosenwald, Michael S. “A Staple under Siege: Plastic Bag Manufacturers Battle Taxes and Bans.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 12 Apr. 2013,

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Campaign Against Plastic Pollution. (2021, Jun 03). Retrieved from