Session 10

Plastic and Marine Debris: What Can Be Done about bottle caps?
Richard V. Anthony
Zero Waste, United States of America, Albatross Coalition

When will the weight of all fish in the ocean equal the weight of plastic discards in the ocean? These plastic discards in the water impacts birds and sea life around the world. Just as the canary in the coal mine forewarns of danger, the Laysan or Pacific Albatross provides a way to measure the impact of plastics in the ocean. Known as the sailor’s companion, this once ubiquitous bird is threatened to extinction because of the unintended consequences of our discards that look like food but are not.
The cultural change needed to reverse this trend is to focus the public’s attention to the unintended consequences of single use non-recyclable plastic packages, containers, and products. The plight of the Albatross due to the large amount of plastic debris washing up on Midway Atoll and the Northwest Hawaiian Islands is somewhat like an oil spill. The flow must be stopped and the residual must be removed.
The Save the Albatross (albatrosscoalition.org) Campaign objective is to motivate identified producers to pay for plastic cleanup on Midway and other US Pacific Islands which are nesting areas for the Laysan and Black-footed Albatross. Bottle caps are one of the most frequent plastic items found in coastal clean ups. There is need to bring the producers these products and packages to the World table to draft Zero Waste responsibility plans for proper management of discarded plastic via redesign for recyclability, buy back purchasing opportunities (closed circle), and recovery campaigns for vagrant plastics on land and sea.
The paper discusses the science and the campaign which includes legislative action to force the redesign to leash the lid, a law suit to fund the cleanup and a public education campaign that includes returning the caps found in costal cleanups back to the producer.