Improving recycling infrastructure, as referenced in the Oct. 27 editorial “From sea to plastic sea,” unfortunately will not solve the ocean plastics problem.

Looking to recycling to address the plastics crisis is like trying to mop water from an overflowing bathtub while the faucet is still running. It’s wishful thinking. Only 9 percent of plastic waste ever generated has been recycled, and with plastic production rates projected to quadruple between 2014 and 2050, we’ll never effect large-scale change by relying on recycling, no matter how skilled we become at it. The first order of business must be to turn off the faucet. Instead, the industry plans to open it up even more.

Consumers won’t be able to choose their way out of plastic until companies offer plastic-free choices. The plastic waste flooding our oceans will continue to increase until companies reduce the single-use plastic they are flooding into the market. We need strong policies that hold companies accountable for the crisis they’ve created by requiring that they reduce their production of this everlasting pollutant. We need more than wishful thinking. We need strong source reduction policies before it’s too late.

Andrew Sharpless, Washington

The writer is chief executive of Oceana,
a conservation organization focused on
ocean preservation and restoration.

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