The Benioff Ocean Initiative is now accepting proposals from interdisciplinary teams to launch a pilot project that will capture plastic waste in rivers before it reaches the ocean and create an associated communications campaign to reduce plastic waste.
Rivers around the world carry huge amounts of plastic waste from land to the ocean, threatening ocean health and the health of coastal communities. Almost 40 submissions to the Benioff Ocean Initiative’s crowdsourcing campaign highlighted this concern, including “Skimming the problem of ocean pollution” and “Identifying ocean plastic sources.” The Benioff Ocean Initiative and The Coca-Cola Foundation have each committed $1.5 million, for a total of $3 million, to support one interdisciplinary team in the implementation of a river plastic waste intervention pilot project.
It is estimated that the vast majority of marine plastic waste comes from land, and that almost all of this land-sourced marine waste is transported to the ocean from rivers. In fact, up to 275 metric tons of plastic are estimated to enter the ocean from rivers every hour on average, which affect the health of seals, sea turtles, whales, manta rays, and many other ocean species. The sheer volume of plastic waste entering the ocean this way creates an opportunity for implementing high-impact, cost-effective intervention strategies in affected rivers.