WASHINGTON (May 24, 2016)—The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) today released a new report entitled “Marine Plastic Debris and Microplastics: Global lessons and research to inspire action and guide policy.” The report emphasizes that “Improving waste collection and management presents the most urgent short-term solution to reducing plastic inputs (into oceans and waterways), especially in developing economies. This will also have other societal benefits in terms of human health, environmental degradation, and economic development.” The report also notes that based on the “available limited evidence, it is concluded that microplastics in seafood do not currently represent a human health risk, although many uncertainties remain.”

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) issued the following statement, which may be attributed to Steve Russell, vice president of plastics:

“This report further strengthens the case for immediately working to reduce marine debris by improving and expanding waste management infrastructure in emerging economies—particularly those with large populations near rivers and coastlines. This important conclusion is consistent with the findings of prior research sponsored by the Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas Alliance® in “Stemming the Tide: Land-based strategies for a plastic-free ocean” and with commitments and programs already undertaken by plastics makers around the globe.

“In 2011, plastics associations around the world joined forces to share knowledge and recommend effective practices for keeping plastics out of the ocean. These efforts are formalized under the “Declaration of the Global Plastics Solutions for Solutions on Marine Litter,” which has been signed by 65 plastics associations in 34 countries.

“Each association has committed to work on solutions in education, research, public policy, best practices, recycling/recovery and pellet containment. Our 2016 Progress Report shows a 165 percent increase in the number of projects underway since the Declaration was initiated.

“People around the world rely on plastics to do more with less and lighten society’s environmental footprint. Strong, lightweight plastics enable us to reduce material use and ultimately conserve resources, save energy, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce waste. Plastics’ environmental profile can become even stronger when we all work together to recycle or otherwise properly dispose of these efficient materials after use.

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The American Chemistry Council (ACC) represents the leading companies engaged in the business of chemistry. ACC members apply the science of chemistry to make innovative products and services that make people’s lives better, healthier and safer. ACC is committed to improved environmental, health and safety performance through Responsible Care®, common sense advocacy designed to address major public policy issues, and health and environmental research and product testing. The business of chemistry is an $801 billion enterprise and a key element of the nation’s economy. It is the nation’s largest exporter, accounting for fourteen percent of all U.S. exports. Chemistry companies are among the largest investors in research and development. Safety and security have always been primary concerns of ACC members, and they have intensified their efforts, working closely with government agencies to improve security and to defend against any threat to the nation’s critical infrastructure.