Plastics and Impacts on Endangered Species: What Role Might Congress Play in the 116th Congress?

Kim Diana Connolly and Rebecca Carden

Every year, 18 billion pounds of plastic waste flows into the world’s oceans––think of it as the equivalent to five grocery bags of plastic trash sitting on every foot of coastline around the world.

In addition to the effect that plastic pollution has on humans, such plastics also harm nonhuman animals (hereinafter “animals”), including endangered species. Experts reported in 2015 that “[t]he number of species known to have been affected by either entanglement or ingestion of plastic debris has doubled since 1997, from 267 to 557 species among all groups of wildlife.”  Last year’s United Nation’s World Environment Day (June 5, 2018)––the key day for the United Nations to encourage worldwide environmental awareness and action––chose as its theme the effort to beat plastic pollution.

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