Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Do plastic makers support efforts to clean up the gyres?
A. Absolutely, unfortunately, at the moment there isn’t a viable way to collect existing debris. So, for now, our priority is on preventing plastic litter from getting into the ocean in the first place. America’s plastics makers are aware of the problem and care very deeply about protecting our oceans. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Plastic products don’t belong in our oceans and waterways or on our beaches; they belong in recycling bins. We support serious efforts to help prevent plastics from becoming litter along with science based research into the sources, causes, effects and prevention of marine debris. ACC and its members believe that all plastics are too valuable to waste and that we should all work together to preserve our oceans for future generations.

Q. Won’t using less plastics help take care of the marine debris problem?
A. Plastics help make a wide range of useful, versatile products, and in many cases help to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions compared to alternatives. However, no product—plastic, paper, steel, or aluminum belongs in our world’s oceans. The Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup identifies the top ten items found in beach cleanups worldwide. Marine debris is made up of all kinds of materials. Banning or taxing one material will not solve the marine debris problem; it will merely shift it from one littered material to another. That is why we believe preventing litter of all materials is the solution, along with promoting recycling.

Q. How can plastic bottles and bags be kept from getting into the ocean?
A. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. There are many ways that plastics help to make products lighter by using less material, and you can help to further reduce unnecessary use by refusing a bag for single-item purchases or by filling a reusable bottle before you head to the beach. There are countless ways you can reuse your bags, including to pick up litter along the shore, and you can recycle any leftover bags. There is a growing infrastructure for plastic bag recycling at large grocery and retail chains across the United States. In fact, there are over 15,000 bag recycling bins across the U.S. Grocers and other retail stores in every U.S. state have recycling bins to accept bags and plastic product wraps—such as the wrap around paper towels or a case of soda.

Your plastic bottles can go curbside. In addition to beverage bottles, be sure to include food jars (e.g., peanut butter and mayonnaise) and bottles from self-care products, laundry detergent, household cleaners and shampoo. And remember: Keep caps on bottles when you recycle them. Recyclers want your caps, and it’s a great way to keep them out of the marine environment.

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