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8 million tons of plastic, every single year

Marine debris is destroying our ocean and harming the wildlife that live there. Because of the Save Our Seas Act 2.0, which I helped lead, we have a new report on the health of our ocean.

Earlier this month, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine published Reckoning with the U.S. Role in Global Ocean Plastic Waste. The report confirms what we feared: the issue of plastic waste in the ocean is getting worse.

In 2016, the U.S. created more plastic waste than any other country in the world.

Each year, about 8 million metric tons of plastic are discarded into the ocean—that's the equivalent of dumping a garbage truck full of plastic waste into the sea every minute. By 2030 the total is expected to be as high as 53 million metric tons.

Although the news feels grim, I am encouraged. Let me tell you why:

It's hard to know how to solve the problem if you do not see the scope of the problem. And because of this report, we now know exactly how much work we have ahead of us, we understand just how critical this work is, and we know where to start.

The report recommends these interventions:

Reduce production of plastic debris. We must decrease the amount of plastic, mainly single-use or difficult to recycle plastic, that we produce. And we must create and use items designed to be reused as much as possible.

Biodegradable solutions. We need substitutes for plastic that can serve a similar function but decompose much more quickly.

Improve waste management. Our recycling system in the U.S. is inadequate. We need infrastructure upgrades to improve how we manage waste.

Collect and remove waste from the environment. Capturing plastic waste and removing it from storm drains, rivers, and beaches will significantly affect marine health.

Curtail ocean disposal. We must stop the dumping of plastic from seagoing vessels and hold those who continue to do it accountable. There is much more to do for our ocean health and the plant and animal life that depends on it. You can count on me to keep advocating for policies addressing this critical environmental issue.

Thank you for standing with me,


Posted on December 15, 2021.

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Meet Suzanne

Suzanne knows what it’s like to struggle to make ends meet. She worked her way through community college, university, and law school. She started her career at Legal Aid and worked as a consumer rights attorney. Throughout her career she’s been a leading advocate for public education, protecting the environment, and civil rights. She’s fighting for a better future for all Oregonians.

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