Nineteen Top U.S. Aquariums Join Forces to Tackle Growing Plastic Pollution Threat Facing Ocean and Rivers
Aquariums from coast to coast shift away from single-use plastic products and packaging, rally consumers to build market demand for innovative alternatives
Nineteen aquariums across the United States, including the Texas State Aquarium, have joined forces and created a new Aquarium Conservation Partnership (ACP) to address one of the gravest threats facing ocean and freshwater animals – plastic pollution. Today, the ACP announced the launch of a nationwide consumer campaign and a business commitment to drive a shift away from single-use plastic among their visitors, in their communities and beyond.
“The public trusts aquariums to do what’s right for the health of the ocean and for ocean wildlife,” said Julie Packard, executive director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium. “We’re just beginning to understand the full impacts of ocean plastic pollution on ecosystems, marine life and human health. But we already know enough to say that now is the time to act.”
Through the national “In Our Hands” campaign, the ACP hopes to empower their 20 million visitors and millions more in their communities to drive a national shift away from single-use plastic and toward innovative alternatives. The campaign includes a website that inspires visitors to make positive everyday behavior changes and raise awareness of the issue.
All 19 aquariums are also supporting this shift away from single-use plastic within their own businesses. As of today, all ACP members have eliminated plastic straws and single-use plastic take-away bags in their institutions. In hopes of additional plastic reduction, the aquariums have also committed to:
- Significantly reduce or eliminate plastic beverage bottles by December 2020
- Showcase innovative alternatives to single-use plastic in their facilities
Tom Schmid, President and CEO of the Texas State Aquarium, said his institution has already completed many of the plastic reduction initiatives ahead of schedule, including eliminating plastic beverage bottles and highlighting alternatives to plastic.
“As a pillar of our community and the local economy and an active supporter of ocean conservation, it’s important for us to lead on the issue of plastic pollution and to be part of the solution,” said Schmid. “As part of our ongoing mission, we’re constantly working to reduce ocean pollution through our everyday operations. We’ve eliminated plastic water bottles from our premises, removed hundreds of tons of marine debris from local beaches, and encourage our guests to recycle, reuse, and reduce plastic. But our participation in the ACP will drive us to do even more to combat plastic pollution.”
“As leaders in aquatic conservation, aquariums are expected to walk their talk, and that’s exactly what this partnership is meant to do,” said National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli. “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. We’re right where we should be.”
About 8.8 million tons of plastic enters the ocean each year worldwide – roughly a dump truck full of plastic every minute of every day. In the United States alone, plastic waste averages more than 200 pounds per person each year. If nothing changes, by 2025 the flow of plastic into the ocean is expected to double. Seventy to eighty percent of all the trash found on Texas beaches is land based—left behind by beach goers and illegal dumping activities, or washed from streets into storm drains which eventually carry it to the Texas coast by way of our rivers and streams.
The Aquarium Conservation Partnership was first championed by the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California, National Aquarium in Baltimore and Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, in collaboration with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Coalition partners are located in 16 states and include:
- California: Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach; California Academy of Sciences/Steinhart Aquarium in San Francisco; and Monterey Bay Aquarium
- Connecticut: Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut
- Florida: The Florida Aquarium in Tampa
- Illinois: Shedd Aquarium in Chicago
- Kentucky: Newport Aquarium in Kentucky
- Louisiana: Audubon Nature Institute/Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans
- Maryland: National Aquarium
- Massachusetts: New England Aquarium in Boston
- Nebraska: Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Nebraska
- New York: Wildlife Conservation Society/New York Aquarium in New York City
- North Carolina: North Carolina Aquariums
- South Carolina: South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston
- Tennessee: Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga
- Texas: Texas State Aquarium in Corpus Christi
- Virginia: Virginia Aquarium in Virginia Beach; and
- Washington: Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma; and Seattle Aquarium
This summer, the aquariums will focus on raising awareness and sparking consumer action, and sharing their own success stories to highlight the many ways they’ve cut back on single-use plastic in their operations.
They are working with business partners to showcase innovative alternatives to single-use plastic products, and will collaborate with vendors to accelerate design of new products and materials. They are also finding ways to use less plastic packaging in gift store items, and scaling back on single-use plastic in their cafes and restaurants.
The aquariums are also using their collective voice – at the local, state and national level – to support policies that reduce the flow of plastic pollution into the ocean, rivers and lakes. Beyond sponsoring clean-up events and education programs, many have backed successful efforts to stem the use of plastic shopping bags and plastic microbeads found in personal care products.
“By using our voice with visitors our and in our communities, our collective buying power and our relationships with our vendors, we can make a big difference on a pressing issue that threatens the health of wildlife in the ocean, lakes and rivers,” said Schmid. “The solution to plastic pollution is in our hands.”
About the Aquarium Conservation Partnership
The Aquarium Conservation Partnership (ACP) is a collaboration of 19 AZA-accredited public aquariums across North America committed to advancing conservation and advocacy of the world’s oceans, lakes and rivers through public action, business leadership and policy changes aimed at addressing major threats to aquatic environments.
Photo, Video and Graphic Assets:
High-resolution photos, video and graphic assets can be downloaded from the following link. Captions and credit information are included: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/9o9d9whgx5kzrvk/AAAB7mPsHoWcvl5L6JA1K4v2a?dl=0