Plastic Pollution Policy Project (P4)

UPSTREAM developed the Plastic Pollution Policy Project (P4) to convene North American actors around aligning to drive changes in the system causing ocean plastic pollution.

In the last 10 years, efforts to combat marine plastic pollution have grown from a handful of scientists to a global movement with constituents ranging from community-based advocacy groups, to government and corporate actors, to powerful national and international NGOs. Like many other environmental movements before us, the plastic pollution movement is currently at a crossroads. In order to effectively address the problem, the movement needs to grow, evolve, and integrate around core solutions and campaigns. The purpose of the P4 Project is to assemble the core plastic pollution organizations to align around a set of common goals, strategies, and integrated campaigns to solve ocean plastic pollution.

The Problem with Plastic

A recent study revealed that eight million tons of plastic waste flows into our oceans each year, enough to cover every foot of coastline in the world with five shopping bags full of plastic garbage.

Once in the ocean, sunlight and ocean currents shred the plastic debris into smaller particles called microplastics. Throughout the marine food chain, organisms big and small are eating microplastics. What’s worse is that the plastic acts as a sponge for persistent organic pollutants in the environment. All the long-lived toxic chemicals – like DDT, PCBs, flame retardants, etc – that we’ve pumped into the environment over the last 50 years are absorbed by the plastic. Essentially, the plastic in our oceans is acting like a toxic conveyor belt, attracting and concentrating toxic chemicals up the marine food chain and into our bodies.

GroupWhile there’s been a significant amount of progress and awareness-raising through the campaigns to date around plastic bags, polystyrene take-out containers, and microbeads, these efforts admittedly are not the ultimate solution. In order to effectively tackle the problem, we have to understand the root causes and scale high-leverage strategies to solve plastic pollution. This will require alignment around solutions, campaigns and funding from the core organizations involved. UPSTREAM staff have a wealth of experience in convening, incubating and building successful advocacy coalitions, campaigns and networks. In partnership with the leading US organizations, we are working to help take the movement to the next level by aligning around collaborative campaigns that will have real-world, measurable impacts on reducing ocean plastic pollution.