Baltimore Aquarium Joins National Coalition Pledging to Fight Plastic Pollution

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Plastic bottles at Fort McHenry. Photo via National Aquarium.

The National Aquarium in Baltimore is banding together with 18 other aquariums around the country to reduce plastic pollution.

The new Aquarium Conservation Partnership intends to “drive a national shift away from single-use plastic and toward innovative alternatives” through its “In Our Hands” campaign, according to an announcement. Each member has already eliminated plastic straws and single-use bags, and intends to “significantly reduce or eliminate” plastic drink bottles by December 2020.

Baltimore’s aquarium, the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California and Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium are spearheading the campaign. All members will also be raising awareness about plastic pollution, promoting behavioral changes to patrons and working with business partners and vendors to share good alternatives to single-use plastics and introduce new products and materials.

Some of the members have sponsored their own cleanup events and education programs, or have helped reduce the use of plastic shopping bags and microbeads in personal care products.

National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli said in a statement that the city’s Inner Harbor attraction is well positioned to help.

“We are uniquely qualified to set an example for others—in reducing our plastic footprint, encouraging sustainable operating practices and inspiring hope in a public that is hungry to be part of the solution,” he said. “We’re right where we should be.”

According to the partnership, roughly 8.8 million tons of plastic enters the world’s oceans every year. In the United States alone, plastic waste averages more than 200 pounds per person each year.

It’s a major problem here in the Chesapeake Bay, too, even without considering larger pieces or whole bags that float into the estuary. The Chesapeake Bay Journal last spring reported on emerging findings about so-called microplastics, which even at 5 millimeters or less in length can absorb pollutants from the water that hurt nearby aquatic plants and animals.

The partnership will also give member aquariums a collective voice to lobby for polices mitigating plastic pollution at the local, state and national levels. The group includes aquariums from 16 states.

Click here to learn more about the partnership or the numbers surrounding global plastic pollution.

Ethan McLeod
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