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Plastics Don't Belong in Oceans; Industry Taking Action on Marine Debris


Contact: Allyson Wilson (202) 249-6623  
Email: allyson_wilson@americanchemistry.com 

WASHINGTON (January 16, 2013)The University of California at Davis yesterday announced a study of chemical absorption by plastics in the ocean environment. The following statement may be attributed to Keith Christman, managing director of plastics markets for the American Chemistry Council.

“Plastics don’t belong in the ocean—and plastic makers are working to keep litter from reaching our oceans and to learn more about the potential effects of existing marine litter. Through the American Chemistry Council, America’s plastics makers helped lead the development of the industry’s Global Declaration on Solutions for Marine Litter, which has been signed by nearly sixty plastics associations in 34 countries.

“Scientists have long understood that persistent organic pollutants (POPs) can bind to organic compounds, such as plastics; what is currently not known is whether pollutants bound to plastics are then bioavailable or a significant route for exposure to marine life. For example, NOAA has stated that ‘POPs have a high affinity for plastic in seawater. This is the basis for several POP sampling techniques, including passive sampling. While this high affinity results in elevated POP concentrations on microplastic particles, these POPs may not be readily bioavailable.1

“America’s plastics makers agree more research is needed on this subject, and we are supporting a comprehensive scientific review of this issue by the Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP)2 working with international agencies and NOAA.

“Moreover, in December the world’s leading plastics associations issued a Progress Report on the Global Declaration originally announced in March 2011 at the 5th International Marine Debris Conference. The Progress Report identifies more than 140 projects to prevent marine litter that are completed, underway or planned around the globe.”

For more information on efforts on marine litter please visit www.marinedebrissolutions.org.

1 NOAA http://marinedebris.noaa.gov/projects/pdfs/Microplastics.pdf Key Finding #5

2 Proceedings of the GESAMP International Workshop on Microplastic particles as a vector in transporting persistent, bio-accumulating and toxic substances in the ocean (June 2010)

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