Democratic congressional candidate Bob Marx calls for nationwide plastic bottle recycling law similar to Hawaii's, says measure necessary to halt degradation of Pacific Ocean
December 2, 2011
– Democratic Congressional candidate Bob Marx has called for a nationwide plastic bottle recycling law similar to Hawaii’s.
Speaking to residents in Ocean View on Hawaii Island, Marx said such a law is necessary law to halt the degradation of the Pacific Ocean.
At the convergence of the Northern Pacific gyre between California and Hawaii there is an island of floating mostly-plastic trash, estimated to be twice the size of Texas, he said.
“If you want to know where those plastic grocery bags, plastic bottles, old printer cartridges, and old fishing nets end up,” Marx said, “this spot is home for much of your trash contributing to the Pacific Ocean’s growing pile of waste along with the 2011 Japan tsunami debris.
In a slow but steady trip, that piece of plastic dropped or blown from your hand is carried on to the nearest stream, then to a larger stream and on to the Pacific Ocean. The North Pacific sub-tropical gyre circulates clockwise in a slow spiral catching the plastic and holding it for many years.
“The solution is straightforward but difficult. Together, we must reduce our use of plastics,” Marx said.
“We must re-use those plastics that we do use, and recycle those plastic items that otherwise may be bound for the ocean from the thousands of watersheds around the globe,” said the Neighbor Island Democrat who seeks the Second Congressional seat.
“A nationwide ‘Bottle Bill’ requiring recycling would encourage the reuse and reduction of more plastics. Hawaii and more than 10 other states have required bottles to have deposits. A national law should expand this to include other plastic containers,” Marx said.
“One of my first priorities in Congress will be preserving the Pacific Ocean. The plastics threaten the very habitat of ocean life.”
This part of the Pacific is an important reproduction area for many of the Pacific’s marine mammals and sea birds, he said.
“The plastic not only destroys their habitat but also endangers the smallest but most important part of the marine life system, plankton,” he said
Plankton consists of extremely small plants and animals that float passively in the water or have extremely limited swimming power, and are carried by the ocean current.
Phytoplankton produce more oxygen than all the other plant life on earth. Phytoplankton are tiny, photosynthetic organisms, which many scientists consider to be plants, because they produce their own food using sunlight, i.e., photosynthesis. They create oxygen and filter our oceans and are an important source of food for many marine animals.
When plastic breaks down, as it will do over time and at about 86 degrees Fahrenheit, it is absorbed by plankton. These plankton are then eaten by small and large marine fish and animals. One of the harmful plastic by-products is BPA, which probably interferes with the reproductive processes in marine animals. Many of the other plastic by-products of this breaking down process are known carcinogens (cancer causing agents).