Environmental Protection

Funds Awarded by EPA to Lower Ocean Pollution

More than $214,000 in grants was awarded to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Product Stewardship Institute, Inc. in California in hopes of reducing sources of ocean pollution in partnership with local students, governments, and businesses.

The Products Stewardship Institute will be using $164,245 of the grant money in order to begin a study to reduce disposable plastic packaging on the campuses of three California coastal universities. The results from the study will be used to develop a model program that can be used by other universities and fast-food corporations. The Monterey Bay Aquarium will use a $50,000 grant to train 100 teachers to teach students to lead local community action projects to reduce sources of ocean plastics.

“Reducing waste at the source, rather than just cleaning it up, is key to protecting our coastal waters,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “These two projects are big steps forward to reducing the amount of trash that ends up in our rivers, oceans, and estuaries.”

The Institute will work to achieve a 40 percent reduction in single-use plastic water bottles and an 80 percent reduction in polystyrene take-out containers at fast-food restaurants, dining facilities and student centers at University of California campuses in Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, and San Francisco.

Trash targeted by grant work will focus on plastics that enter California waterways and eventually disintegrate and become part of the food chain, harming fish and wildlife. The “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”—two large areas of floating plastic waste in the North Pacific—is an example of how such plastic waste can accumulate and pose a serious threat to the environment. Composed primarily of plastic litter and other debris, such as derelict fishing nets, much of the trash in the Patch is very small bits of floating plastic debris broken down through photodegradation.

Grants were provided under EPA Pacific Southwest region’s Marine Debris program, which seeks to reduce materials being released to the aquatic habitats. Such pollution harms marine and coastal wildlife, destroys ocean habitats, causes navigation hazards, results in economic losses to industry and governments, and threatens human health and safety.

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