Ocean pollution affects everyone, even those like myself that live in a landlocked state. Living in Iowa, typically I do not think much about the ocean because I am not near the coasts, but that does not mean that ocean pollution should not warrant the attention of Americans everywhere. I learned about ocean pollution first when I watched a video in school about the 4Ocean company and their efforts to battle plastics in the ocean. Single use plastics are the single largest threat to marine life.

The sheer amount of plastic packaging has massive implications when it comes to the ecosystems of marine life. Scientists at Arizona State University are estimating that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean. This is a frightening thought when many companies are using single use plastic packaging and have no intentions of stopping. One reason why it is crucial to reduce the amount of single use plastics in the ocean is because of the lifespan of plastic. Some plastics can last as long as five hundred years in the ocean before it decomposes. Furthermore, contrary to the idea that “companies are as green as ever,” of the 7.3 billion metric tons of plastic in the ocean, 6.3 billion was manufactured after 1950.

The biggest issue with single use plastic packaging is the lack of legislation that bans or prohibits the production and use of plastic. The landlocked states make up the majority of states in the U.S. that do not have legislation banning or prohibiting single use plastics. The coastal states are leading the way when it comes to legislation regarding the use and production of single use plastic packaging. This is the way to combat plastic packaging waste in our oceans. My plan is simple: impose a fee on companies for the production of single use plastic packaging and usage. At this point, the fee amount is undecided, but I think the fee needs to be applied per violation. For example, the fee should not be a one time fee for exceeding an acceptable limit of single use plastics, but it should be per package that uses single use plastic. As for where the money goes, I think it should go straight to universities or other organizations to help fund innovation groups for combatting ocean packaging waste.

In the past, there have been pieces of legislation that got reasonable support from senators. In 2018, the Save Our Seas Act was brought upon the Senate, sponsored by Dan Sullivan of Alaska, along with other Senators. The Save our Seas 2.0 act refined the first act and was also sponsored by Sullivan, this was a bipartisan bill that was signed into law in late 2020. The primary goal of this bill is to find innovative ways to clean up the ocean and reusing some of the waste that is recovered. There are people with amazing ideas and they just need a start when it comes to the funding and this could remedy that problem.

Essay by: Alan Trible
Waukee High School

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