How can we create more effective waste management systems that prevent plastics from entering our oceans?

If you need help finding a place to. It goes without saying, but when using single-use (and other) plastics that can be recycled, always be sure to recycle them. Currently, only 9% of plastic is recycled worldwide. Recycling helps keep plastics out of the ocean and reduces the amount of “new plastic” in circulation.

If you need help finding a place to recycle plastic waste near you, check out the Earth911 recycling directory. It's also important to check with your local recycling center about the types of plastic they accept. Improve wastewater management by developing and building sustainable wastewater infrastructure for the 3 billion people who lack access to controlled waste disposal facilities. Untreated wastewater contains a number of contaminants such as pathogens, plastics and chemicals.

It can pose a serious risk to human and environmental health due to exposure to toxic substances, vector-borne diseases and eutrophication. Van Sebille's research estimated that there are 276,000 tons of small plastic floating on the surface of the ocean. One solution is the development and mobilization of technologies that prevent plastics from entering waterways or accumulating marine and river plastic pollution. Internationally, hundreds of organizations and companies are calling on the United Nations to enact a global treaty on plastics that establishes global rules and regulations that reduce plastic pollution.

In an effort to reduce the amount of plastic waste that enters marine waters, Pew is working with governments, industry, scientists and other non-governmental organizations or civil society to better understand this global problem and implement solutions throughout the plastic system. The objective of this study was to address this gap by creating a complete inventory of technologies currently used or under development to prevent the leakage of plastic pollution or collect existing plastic pollution. In addition, legislation that limits, taxes, or prohibits unnecessary single-use plastic items, such as plastic bags, takeaway containers and bottles, has been successfully enacted in many parts of the world, and you can also support the adoption of such policies in your community. This means that beach cleaning can be one of the most effective ways to deal with ocean plastics and microplastics.

One image that has become iconic is that of the plastic bag found in the Mariana Trench, the deepest point in the ocean, 36,000 feet below sea level in the Pacific Ocean. Another concern is that the Ocean Cleanup system could damage a little known ecosystem called Neuston, made up of insects, worms, snails, nudibranchs, crabs, sea anemones and more that float on the surface of the ocean like plastic before scientists have had enough time to study it. Scientists have discovered that 1000 rivers around the world are responsible for 80 percent of the plastic in rivers that ends up in the ocean. A study found that, for the first five years after entering the ocean from land, 77 percent of the plastic remained on beaches or floated in coastal waters.

We also need legislation that reduces plastic production, improves waste management and makes plastic producers responsible for the waste they generate. Australian researchers who analyzed ocean sediments estimated that there are now almost 15.5 million tons of microplastics at the bottom of the ocean.

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