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Biology News

Plastic remains the most collected litter at New Jersey beaches

The annual Beach Sweeps Report from Clean Ocean Action documented that 82.3% of items collected by volunteers were made of foam or plastic

Posted in: In the Media

Plastic trash is deposited at the high tide line at Monmouth Beach
Plastic trash is deposited at the high tide line at Monmouth Beach, New Jersey. (Emma Lee / WHYY)

Plastic pollution is a major problem. The amount of it being produced has skyrocketed since the 1950s. Eight million tons of plastic makes its way into oceans, most of it flowing from land.

Single-use plastic bags, like the ones given out in stores, have been a particular target of cities and states, including New Jersey.

Single-use plastic bags are very light and can easily blow away from garbage bins on the street or away from landfills that are uncovered. Plastic bags are often consumed by or entangle marine wildlife such as whales, dolphins, turtles, and birds.

On May 4, a ban on plastic bags and polystyrene foam food containers will go into effect in the Garden State. In addition, stores larger than 2500 square feet will be prohibited from using paper bags. A law that requires plastic straws to be given to customers upon request went into effect last November.

Schuler adds reducing the amount of single-use plastic bags will “definitely” be beneficial to the environment. He also suggests beachgoers can also help reduce waste by taking their trash with them as they leave. Though some areas have dumpsters and trash cans, he said, animals can get into receptacles or a wind can blow items onto a beach.

Read the full article on WHYY