Who We Are
The Plastic Free Waters Partnership (PFWP) is a collaboration across the public, higher education, nonprofit and private sectors with the goal of reducing plastic and microplastic debris in all waterbodies primarily in the New York/New Jersey region. The partnership drives the latest research, policies, and education to implement strategies that protect our waters, health, and wildlife.
What We Do
Common trash from consumer goods makes up the majority of what eventually becomes marine debris, polluting our waterways and oceans. Plastics in the aquatic environment are of increasing concern because of their persistence and effect on the environment, wildlife, and human health. The Plastic Free Waters Partnership is reducing the volume of trash entering U.S. waterways. Our Working Groups include university researchers, communication specialists, community organizers, and others that focus on seven distinct areas— microplastics, single-use plastic bottles, plastic bags, cigarette butts, single-use take-out containers, plastic straws, and balloons.
The five segments of the Plastic Free Waters logo are inspired by 5 single-use plastic items that are consistently found on the shores of our waterways – plastic bags, bottles, cigarette butts, to-go boxes, and microplastics. Since we have started working to reduce plastic pollution we have added straws and balloons to our target items. Better alternatives exist for these materials – source reduction is the key!
In 2015, The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Headquarters stated that their Trash Free Waters initiative was a “strategic approach to support aquatic trash prevention and reduction initiatives by many public, private and nonprofit stakeholders.” EPA developed regional strategies with a national goal of “reducing the volume of plastic trash entering fresh and marine water environments, approaching zero-loading of trash into US waters within 10 years.” The agency served as a “catalyst/convener of strategic and tactical planning processes; identified “champions” as project leads and collective actions; facilitated projects, and consulted with a range of stakeholders.
With Judith Enck as the Regional Administrator, EPA Region 2 facilitated well-attended partnership meetings and initiated workgroups, attracting a range of stakeholders . At the December 13, 2016 full partnership meeting, Enck encouraged the partners in attendance to plan for the end of her appointment and the shift in administration. Debby Lee Cohen, then lead of the Messaging Group, established a Steering Group at this time. Initial goals were decided upon and included, maintaining momentum and support for the Partnership and workgroups, establishing a mission and goals, and planning for three 2017 full partnership meetings.
Now called the Plastic Free Waters Partnership, the group is autonomous from the EPA Region 2, although EPA staff remain on working groups as ex officio members.
Partners and Participants
Government participation is not an endorsement of Plastic Free Waters Partnership activities.