RI takes steps to reduce plastic marine debris

NEWPORT, R.I. — Rhode Island recently joined the fight to address plastic ocean pollution by signing the Clean Seas Pledge on behalf of Governor Gina M. Raimondo, announced Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) Director Janet Coit at a recent Volvo Ocean Race summit.

Coit also announced the new Zero Plastic Marina Partnership, a voluntary effort between DEM, the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association (RIMTA), and marina operators to keep plastics out of Narragansett Bay and off ocean coastlines, and a pilot boat recycling program for disposing of abandoned or old fiberglass boats.

“I am proud that Rhode Island is the first state in America to sign the Clean Seas Pledge,” said Governor Gina Raimondo.

“In addition to supporting world-class events like the Volvo Ocean Race, our bays, rivers, and coastal waters support commercial and recreational fisheries, tourism, and recreation. I’m excited that DEM is working with our marinas on a voluntary initiative to ban plastics. Let’s keep our waters clean and free of plastic and other marine debris.”

The 2018 Volvo Ocean Race (VOR), with its Turn the Tide on Plastics initiative, is a model for spotlighting sustainability and the need to reduce plastic ocean pollution.

Richard Brisius, president of the Volvo Ocean Race, said, “I would like to congratulate the state of Rhode Island on joining the United Nations-led Clean Seas campaign to address the impacts plastics are having on our oceans.

“By individuals, businesses, NGOs and states, such as Rhode Island, working together we can find innovative solutions to educate, innovate and leave a lasting legacy that will help address the plastic problem.”

“Sail Newport is very proud of our home state of Rhode Island and RI DEM for their leadership to protect the ‘blue space’ that we live on, play on and cherish as our most important resource,” said Brad Read, executive director of Sail Newport and the Volvo Ocean Race Newport Stopover.

“The Sailing Center in Fort Adams will work very hard to help launch the Zero Plastic Marine Partnership and other initiatives announced by Director Janet Coit. We are the smallest state, but we have a big message and strong partnerships here in the Ocean State to solve the ocean pollution problem and preserve the ocean for future generations.”

As part of the Clean Seas Pledge, DEM and RIMTA are launching the Zero Plastic Marina Partnership, a voluntary effort to educate, prevent pollution, encourage recycling, and clean the coastline by keeping plastics out of the environment.

The program will begin immediately. A menu of 10 pollution prevention action items have been developed to help marina owners commit to and implement the program; participating marinas and boatyards can customize the program according to their own business practices.

Action items include:

• Posting “don’t litter” educational materials around the docks and marina explaining the impacts of plastics in waters and on shorelines;

• Providing readily available systems for plastics recycling;

• Expanding shrink-wrap recycling from vessel storage;

• Providing water filling stations at the marina as an alternative to single-use bottles;

• Discontinuing use of polystyrene cups and containers at marina restaurants;

• Hosting and supporting shoreline litter cleanups.

Since 2006, RIMTA, through its members – 53 marinas and boatyards – has recycled more than 1.3 million pounds of shrink-wrap. Last year alone, RIMTA marinas and boatyards recycled more than 145,000 pounds of plastic shrink-wrap. 

DEM is also working with RIMTA, 11th Hour Racing, RI Resource Recovery Corporation, and RI Sea Grant on a pilot boat recycling program for abandoned or old fiberglass boats.

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