California has an ambitious goal to limit the increasing amount of plastics in the ocean and urges more studies to be done on this threat to marine mammals, fish, and potentially to humans.
All of this is done under a plan that’s been approved by a state panel.
The Ocean Protection Council voted to make California the first state with an adopted comprehensive plan to tackle plastic pollution.
This plan includes everything from banning plastic cigarette filters and polystyrene drinking cups to creating more green zones to filter plastics from stormwater before it goes into the sea.
Advisory Proposals, but Very Important Steps
These are only advisory proposals and there’s a need for approvals from other agencies and the Legislature needed so that they’re put into place. Still, there’s plenty of resolve from the council members and this will help California push the plan further.
According to the executive director of the Ocean Protection Council, Mark Gold, this action says that they can deal right away with the environmental catastrophe that’s a global issue.
The secretary of California Natural Resources, Wade Crowfoot, notes that by minimizing pollution at the source, they will protect rivers, wetlands, and oceans, but also the people and the rest of nature which is dependent on these waters.
The industry opposition has helped shut down legislation to allow the single-use packaging to be made recyclable or compostable. However, the voters will have an opportunity to impose these requirements in November with the California Recycling and Plastic Pollution Reduction Voter Act.
This will force the single-use plastic producers to make compostable, reusable, or recyclable options and the aim is to decrease plastic waste by a fourth by 2030.
Our Oceans & Marine Life Are Suffering at Our Hand & Overuse of Plastics
Unfortunately, scientific data notes that 11 million metric tons of plastic go into the ocean every year. And, this amount can become triple by 2040 if there’s no correction. Microplastics are a major issue.
These are particles smaller than 5 mm in diameter. Some come from the breakdown of plastic bottles, bags, and wraps while others come from fishing gear, containers, and clothes.
One study from 2019 found that the single biggest microplastics source in San Francisco Bay were the tiny particles from tires that got into the bay after being washed from the streets.
The chemicals in microplastics have been found harmful to fish and other marine life. It triggers reduced growth, lower reproduction, and inflamed tissue.
The current plan has 22 actions to fight off the issue, some are made to remove plastic waste at the source while others cut it before it enters the air, storm drains, and sewers.
Pollution from microplastics is an international problem. The UN is working on a treaty to fight against contaminants and the EU is also working on its own policy.