Evaluation of the Contributions of the United States to Global Ocean Plastic Waste
The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) is conducting a study to evaluate the contributions of the United States to global ocean plastic waste, including types of marine debris, where it comes from, the amount of marine debris in our domestic waterways, and the export and import of plastic waste to and from the United States, among other questions.
Type of Project: Research
Project Dates: June 2020 - December 2021
Who is involved?
The NASEM Ocean Studies Board will assemble a committee of experts in the field. The committee will include members with expertise in waste management, resource economics, marine policy, environmental policy, marine conservation, physical oceanography, ocean observing, and coastal management.
What is the project and why is it important?
Marine debris is a pervasive global problem that touches every corner of our ocean and Great Lakes. Marine debris is not only an environmental problem, but can have social, economic, and political aspects, and presents challenges to global food security. Plastic items are the most common type of marine debris in our ocean, waterways, and Great Lakes.
The NASEM Ocean Studies Board will advance one of the studies required in the draft legislation for the Save our Seas 2.0 Act. The study will examine the contributions of the United States to global ocean plastic waste, including the following: (1) an evaluation of the United States’ contributions to global ocean plastic waste, including types, sources, and geographic variations, (2) an assessment of the prevalence of marine debris and mismanaged plastic waste in saltwater and freshwater United States navigable waterways and tributaries, (3) an examination of the import and export of plastic waste to and from the United States; and 4) the potential means to reduce United States contributions to global ocean plastic waste. This study will also include an assessment of the potential value of a national marine debris tracking system and recommend knowledge gaps that warrant further scientific inquiry.
A committee of experts will conduct four or five information-gathering workshops in the United States, as well as closed meetings for reviewing and writing. We expect that the publication and dissemination of the final report will happen in October - December 2021.
For more information about this project, visit the Marine Debris Program Clearinghouse.