Interview with Director of Trash Free Sea Program @Ocean Conservancy

Posted by Chandler Slavin on May 7, 2015 7:52:26 AM

Hey guys!

When I attended SUSTPACK on behalf of Packaging Digest, in addition to covering the sessions via social media outlets (BTW, did you see this compilation of popular Tweets from the conference!?), I was tasked with writing an article about something interesting I learned.

...I love this tweet from Lisa @PackagingDigest.


I have always been very sensitive about the issue of ocean debris. I think I have seen that picture of the Albatross carcass with plastic bits littered throughout several dozen times, and every time, it has the same stomach-flopping effect on me.

I find plastic marine debris a hard problem to comprehend. It is such a geographically large issue, owned by all, making the attribution of responsibility all the more difficult.

I wrote my first article about plastic ocean debris in 2013, after I saw a panel discussion on the issue and learned about the findings of a new report, “Plastic Accumulation in the North Atlantic Subtropical Gyre” (Kara Lavender Law et al., Science Magazine, September 2010). The authors conclude:

“Plastic marine pollution is a major environmental concern, yet a quantitative description of the scope of the problem in the open ocean is lacking. Here, we present a time series of plastic content at the surface of the western North Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea from 1986 to 2008. … Despite a rapid increase in plastic production and disposal during this time period, no trend in plastic concentration was observed in the region of highest accumulation."

My first article on ocean debris, therefore, worked to emphasize this finding that while plastics production and consumption is always increasing, plastic debris in the ocean is not.


And then, science happened.

While attending SUSTPACK I heard another panel discussion on ocean debris and learned of ANOTHER study, "Plastic waste inputs from land into ocean" (Jambeck et al., Science, February 2015).

This study, as the title implies, quantifies and qualifies the concentration of plastics entering the ocean. The findings are remarkable. Look out for my exclusive interview with the Director of the Trash Free Seas Program at the Ocean Conservancy in my next Packaging Digest article, out soon!