Managing marine plastic pollution: Policy initiatives to address wayward waste

Tibbetts, J. H. (2015). Managing marine plastic pollution: Policy initiatives to address wayward waste. Environmental Health Perspectives (Online), 123(4) doi:


John Tibbetts journal article, “Managing marine plastic pollution: Policy initiatives to address wayward waste,” expresses the need to bring about change for cleaner beaches and oceans.  The topic of this article is how marine plastic is a major problem all over the world.  The research question was how are different places around the world dealing with and attempting to fix the high amount of pollutants.  This project was mostly based on observational data with some correlation data.  The first part of the article explains where marine plastic pollution comes from and how it gets into the ocean.  Tibbetts’ data gathering method was through interviews with NOAA’s Marine Debris Program and the Ocean Conservancy, as well as collecting data through previous detached observations and public/private records of other countries.  The US is the twentieth country of coastal nations that produce the most plastic waste from land.  The countries with poor waste management with rising populations are the top leaders.  Those countries are China, Philippines, and Indonesia.  There is a correlation with marine debris and population density of the coastlines.  The higher the coastal population, the more marine debris is found off the coasts. However, Tibbetts discovered through public economic records and interviews from various countries and organizations that reducing plastic could cause a huge market failure in the economy. One of the solutions that Tibbetts found helpful was the principle of extended producer responsibility that some European countries use.  This promotes companies to reuse and recycle which will in turn cut down on marine pollution.  To bring all of his data into final analysis, he compared the amount of debris from various countries and compared that to what they are doing to cut back on the pollution.  His final section of his article deals with some of the solutions that could help clean the oceans and keep up the economy.  I believe that he had a large amount of data, and he described it all well.  I never thought that cleaning marine trash correlated with potential market failure.  I think that Tibbetts should have done more research on ‘greener’ companies that are causing less of an impact on the ocean, and how other companies can follow in their footsteps.