Thursday, November 12, 2015

COA Dives Deep into the Plastic Problem

Beach Sweeps Captains, agency officials, environmental leaders, business representatives, and students gathered at COA’s Debris Sea Free Conference to discuss issues and solutions to plastic pollution that threatens our coasts.  The full day conference, which was open to the public, delved into various topics starting with an overview of the current state of marine debris by the renowned Joan Leary Matthews, Director of the Clean Water Division of the U. S. EPA (Region 2).

Throughout the day, guests enjoyed discussions and workshops, including single use solutions, biodegradable plastics, and the social science behind why people litter.  This event was in recognition of 30 successful years of the Beach Sweeps program, all its volunteers, and the data compiled at over 70 locations.

During COA’s Beach Sweeps every volunteer becomes a ‘citizen scientist’ as they record each piece of debris collected.  The data collection turns a one-day event into a legacy of information that is used to identify sources of pollution and monitor trends.  Clean Ocean Action has been honored to partner with Bloomberg LP to thoroughly analyze the Beach Sweeps’ data set.  These records were revealed at the conference unveiling the extensive evaluation of more than twenty years of data.  This information will help to accurately monitor trends linking them with various legislation, consumerism, weather events, and industry changes.

The attendees admired creative marine debris community art mosaics designed by local artists and volunteers.  The large panels created an interesting thought-provoking visual display of “trash into treasure” as participants entered into the main area of the conference.

Over 150 conference guests were treated to breakfast, lunch and a wrap-up reception highlighting the most valuable resource of the Beach Sweeps – our volunteer Beach Captains.  COA thanks all the Captains and volunteers over the years, as well as the talented and experienced workshop panelists, plenary moderators and speakers at the Debris Free Sea Conference. 

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