Oct. 29, 2013 — Plastic litter is one of the most significant problems facing the world's marine environments. Yet in the absence of a coordinated global strategy, an estimated 20 million tons of plastic litter enter the ocean each year.
A new report by authors from UCLA School of Law's Emmett Center on Climate Change and the Environment and UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability explores the sources and impacts of plastic marine litter and offers domestic and international policy recommendations to tackle these growing problems — a targeted, multifaceted approach aimed at protecting ocean wildlife, coastal waters, coastal economies and human health.
"Stemming the Tide of Plastic Marine Litter: A Global Action Agenda," the Emmett Center's most recent Pritzker Environmental Law and Policy Brief, documents the devastating effects of plastic marine litter, detailing how plastic forms a large portion of our waste stream and typically does not biodegrade in marine environments. Plastic marine litter has a wide range of adverse environmental and economic impacts, from wildlife deaths and degraded coral reefs to billions of dollars in cleanup costs, damage to sea vessels, and lost tourism and fisheries revenues. The brief describes the inadequacy of existing international legal mechanisms to resolve this litter crisis, calling on the global community to develop a new international treaty while also urging immediate action to implement regional and local solutions. Read more