Working Solutions

The most important thing about the plastic problem is that people are starting to pay attention and take action. The country of Kenya joined a growing list of nations that have banned plastic bags. Those that break the rule get fined or sent to jail! France said it would ban plastic plates and cups by 2020. Bans on plastic microbeads in cosmetics take effect this year in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and four other countries. The industry is phasing them out.

Corporations are responding, too. Coca‑Cola also produces bottled water. It’s announced a new goal. It hopes to “collect and recycle the equivalent of ” 100 percent of its packaging by 2030. Other corporations, such as PepsiCo, Amcor, and Unilever have pledged to convert to 100 percent reusable, recyclable, or compostable packaging by 2025.

These bales of plastic were collected by Italian fishermen. They are on their way to be recycled.

System 001, created by Boyan Slat, is a floating cleanup system designed to collect ocean plastic.

Individuals are making a difference, too. Ellen MacArthur, a British yachtswoman, has created a special company. It’s based on the idea of a “circular economy.” All materials, including plastics, are designed to be reused or recycled, not dumped.

Boyan Slat, 24, from the Netherlands, is charging ahead with his vow to clean up the largest garbage patch in the North Pacific. His organization has raised more than $30 million. They are working to build an ocean‑sweeping system to collect trash.

Solutions can be found. People can make a difference. You can help, too.

San Francisco’s largest recycling plant handles up to 600 tons of materials a day.

Ten Things You Can Do