Pacific Southwest, Region 9
Serving: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific Islands, Tribal Nations
Marine Debris Strategy
- Introduction to the Pacific Southwest's Marine Debris program from the Regional Administrator (PDF) (1 pg, 111K)
- Marine Debris Strategy (Pacific Southwest)- A Regional Perspective: Cleanup, Prevention, and Reduction (PDF) (7 pp, 550K)
Marine Debris Resources
- NOAA Marine Debris Program
- EPA Marine Debris
- Interagency Marine Debris Coordinating Committee
- Marine Debris Action Team, West Coast Governors' Agreement on Ocean Health (PDF)
- Hawaii Marine Debris Action Plan
- West Coast Communities’ Cost of Managing Marine Debris
- Tracking 25 Years of Action for the Ocean
Region 9 Marine Debris Team
Marine debris degrades ocean habitats, endangers marine and coastal wildlife, causes navigation hazards, results in economic losses to industry and governments, and threatens human health and safety. EPA Pacific Southwest (Region 9) is tapping existing programs and resources to advance the prevention, reduction and clean-up of marine debris in the North Pacific Ocean. EPA Pacific Southwest activities build upon specific recommendations of the Interagency Marine Debris Coordinating Committee by targeting threats and sources of debris and responding to debris impacts. EPA is initiating a three-pronged effort to reduce sources of marine debris, prevent trash from entering the oceans, and assess the human and ecosystem impacts and potential for cleanup.
Marine Debris in the North Pacific
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Download the full report with references in PDF format: Marine Debris in the North Pacific:
A Summary of Existing Information and Identification of Data Gaps (PDF)
November 2011 (23 pp, 700K)
- Discussions about Marine Debris (podcasts)
Source reduction of commonly littered items such as single-use disposable plastics can play a large role in reducing the amount of marine debris. According to the Ocean Conservancy, six of the top 10 contributors to marine debris are single-use, or disposable, plastic products. They include food and beverage container caps and lids, beverage bottles, plastic bags, food wrappers, flatware (i.e., cups, plates, and cutlery), and drinking straws. Known as food service ware, such single-use plastic utensils and containers pose a threat to marine environments because they do not fully break down or decompose.
Source Reduction Toolkit for Institutional Settings
Many plastic food service ware items originate on college and university campuses—in cafeterias, snack rooms, cafés, and eateries with take-out dining options. The Marine Debris and Plastic Source Reduction Toolkit, developed by Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) with EPA funding, can be easily implemented by colleges, universities and other institutions around the country to minimize plastic waste and reduce the amount of marine debris polluting the planet's oceans and waterways.
The toolkit identifies four steps to achieving source reduction:
- Determining the campus’s plastic footprint with the toolkit’s Footprint Calculator;
- Creating a source reduction plan to reduce or eliminate the use of disposable plastic items;
- Changing campus procurement practices by identifying less environmentally impactful products; and
- Establishing campus-wide source reduction policies.
Download a copy of the Marine Debris & Plastic Source Reduction Toolkit (PDF) (90 pp, 5.5MB) and the Toolkit Fact Sheet (PDF) (1 pp, 178K)
The California Coastal Commission found that plastic bags comprise 13.5% of shoreline litter; the City of Los Angeles found that plastic bags make up 25% of litter in storm drains.
More about EPA’s position on disposable bags:
- Does EPA support laws to ban or tax disposable bags?
- Are paper or plastic shopping bags better for the environment? How about reusable bags versus disposal bags?
Other Source Reduction Resources
- EPA Pacific Southwest Region Awards Marine Debris Source Reduction Grants (PDF). (1pg, 267K)
- News Release: EPA Awards $214,000 to Reduce Sources of Ocean Pollution
- Two Source Reduction Grants Also Awarded Through San Francisco Bay Water Quality Improvement Fund -- See "Packaging Waste Source Reduction Pilot" and "Coyote Creek Trash Reduction Project"
- Source Reduction Request for Proposals (past)
Approaching Zero Trash
Stakeholders in both the Los Angeles River watershed and San Francisco Bay Area watershed have established timelines to reach a goal of zero trash entering the Pacific Ocean from stormwater runoff.