Plastic in the ocean is a significant and growing problem. The majority of plastic waste in the ocean comes from countries where waste management infrastructure has not kept pace with the rise in demand for consumer goods or population. Plastic and all sorts of other waste makes its way into waterways or the ocean and then spreads across the globe.
While the United States accounts for less than 1% of ocean litter, more than two-thirds of plastic packaging in our nation winds up buried in landfills. And plastic too often becomes litter.
What are some companies doing to remove plastic from our ocean?
While multiple efforts are underway to reuse plastics and keep them out of the ocean in the first place, some companies are contributing to a more circular economy for plastics by making useful products out of plastics recovered from the ocean.
Here are some examples (click through links for more info):
- Patagonia is experimenting with using discarded fishing nets in their products.
- Adidas and Parley partnered to produce shoes using plastics collected from beaches and coastal regions, creating more than 11 million pairs in 2019. This year, Adidas will continue to make Parley shoes out of ocean plastic and will also launch “Primeblue” fabric containing Parley marine waste.
- Grundens, a fishing equipment and apparel company, recently announced it will make a line of gear from recycled Alaskan fishing nets.
- Recovered fishing nets have also been recycled into skateboards, sunglasses and cell phone covers by Bureo.
- NortonPoint makes sunglasses with recovered ocean plastics, particularly high-density polyethylene (HDPE) used to make plastic milk jugs, laundry detergent bottles and shopping bags. For every product they sell, the company will clean-up one pound of plastics from the ocean.
- Watch maker Alpina also announced it’s planning to make a diving watch case and band from recovered plastic marine litter.
- Clothing and accessories not your thing? How about playing Jenga with a set made from recycled fishing nets?
Stopping plastics from entering our oceans will require cooperation across businesses, governments, nonprofits and citizens. Companies that make plastics are working on solutions that involve emerging technologies, expanded infrastructure and new ways of doing business.
So, what can you do to help?
- Educate yourself: Learn more about how plastic reaches our ocean and how recycling can help prevent it.
- Reduce Reuse Recycle: This is the simplest step to keep plastic out of the environment. For example, plastics bags: If you don’t need a bag, don’t take a bag. If you take a bag, reuse it as often as possible. If you can’t reuse a bag, recycle it at one of more than 18,000 drop-off locations in the United States.
- Recycle right: Make sure you’re recycling right to facilitate the recovery process and keep plastics out of the environment. Check with your local recycler or government to learn which plastics go in the recycling bin… or go to berecycled.org to find out.
- Participate in beach clean-ups: Join initiatives such as the Great American Cleanup sponsored by Keep America Beautiful or the International Coastal Cleanup sponsored by the Ocean Conservancy.
- Participate in local anti-litter efforts: Work with organizations that have volunteer opportunities to prevent litter in your community. Here’s a great resource: Keep America Beautiful.
- Use your pocketbook: Look for products made with recycled plastics and/or that support cleanup efforts, like 4Ocean.
Continue to visit America’s Plastic Makers: Making Sustainable ChangeSM to learn more about how communities, companies, and brands are recycling and using recycled plastics.