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Marine Plastic Pollution: How Global Extended Producer Responsibility Can Help

December 2020

Citation: 50 ELR 10976

Issue: 12

Author: Erin Eastwood, Justin Fisch, Lara McDonough, and Linda Sobczynski

Nearly nine million tons of plastic waste flow into our oceans each year, arriving in many ways—ranging from polluted rivers and waterways to the wastewater from our washing machines. Once in the ocean, this pervasive plastic pollution is nearly impossible to clean up. If there is anything positive to say about such a broad and complex challenge, it is that there are multiple ways to tackle the problem. Legal and policy solutions are increasingly moving away from the piecemeal, product-by-product approach of single-use plastic bans and toward more comprehensive frameworks and solutions.This Comment discusses one such approach to managing plastic waste in a more comprehensive and holistic manner, called extended producer responsibility.

Erin Eastwood is a marine conservation biologist and Program Director for the National Ocean Protection Coalition. Justin Fisch is an attorney at Morrison & Foerster LLP in San Francisco in the firm’s Environmental and Social Enterprise + Impact Investing groups. Lara McDonough is a third-year law student at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. Linda Sobczynski is an associate in Farella Braun + Martel’s San Francisco office, whose practice spans a range of matters under California and federal environmental and energy laws.

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