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National Academies Study Sponsored by Marine Debris Program Released

DECEMBER 13, 2021 ─ On December 1, 2021, the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) released a report on the United States’ contributions to global ocean plastic waste. 

The Save Our Seas 2.0 Act of 2020 required the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to enter into an arrangement with NASEM to undertake a multifaceted study on the United States’ contribution to global ocean plastic waste and submit a report to Congress within 18 months of enactment of the Act. The NOAA Marine Debris Program entered into a contract with NASEM to study the following:

  • The United States’ contributions to global ocean plastic waste;
  • The prevalence of marine debris and mismanaged plastic waste in saltwater and freshwater United States navigable waterways and tributaries;
  • The import and export of plastic waste to and from the United States, including the destinations of the exported plastic waste and the waste management infrastructure and environmental conditions of these locations; and
  • Potential means to reduce United States contributions to global ocean plastic waste.

The report to Congress also includes recommendations on knowledge gaps that warrant further scientific inquiry and recommendations on the potential value of a national marine debris tracking and monitoring system and how such a system might be designed and implemented. 

Due to the established procedures of NASEM, NOAA experts were not directly involved in the analysis and findings. The NOAA Marine Debris Program will carefully consider the results of this study to increase the benefits of the program’s activities. 

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Last updated Tuesday, November 8, 2022 1:42pm PST