Working Group Updates from March 2018 Plastic Free Waters Meeting

Bag Group Update:

  • Policy: The bag group is exploring how to build up local efforts to support plastic bag policies, such as educational campaigns, reaching out to residents, businesses, and to elected officials.
  • Leading by example: The bag working group is exploring lessons learned from businesses that have already done away with plastic, such as Costco.
  • Strategy: The bag working group is investigating strategies for how to get people to break the habit of using plastic bags. This involves gaining an understanding of the best alternatives, identifying key stakeholders, and identifying promising communities, such as Nassau County, to outreach to.  The role of environmental clubs and school groups has been critical for passing legislation in previous cases. The bag group is investigating why policies stall or fail to be implemented, as part of this approach.

Bottle Group Update:

  • Disseminating educational materials : A major short term goal of the bottle working group is to increase access and usage of bottle refilling stations. The working group is planning activities for sharing information about plastics pollution and encouraging reusables. This includes social media posts, flyers, and other materials that will be shared with stakeholders– starting with schools.
  • Raising awareness and encouraging use of reusable bottles in schools: A major strategic focus will be to target younger people that share concern over plastics pollution, as younger generations are poised to successfully push for change. The working group is looking into how to best engage schools.
  • Developing a database of refilling stations:  The bottle working group is planning activities for building a database of refilling station  with mapping capabilities. This will make it easier for people to find and use refilling stations. ReeFill will continue to install and maintain stations. However, a database would assist PFW identify trends with respect to station locations, and gain a sense of how accessible they are to different public audiences. Ultimately this information could assist PFW push for more publicly accessible refilling stations.

To-Go Container Group Update:

  • Engaging NY Businesses: the to-go container working group has partnered with the Solid Waste Advisory Board to expand the use of reusable containers in local businesses in New York. This will also involve outreach to restaurant groups and chains.
  • Toolkit for Business Owners: the to-go container working group will develop a toolkit for businesses on standard operating procedures for reusable to-go containers. This toolkit would also include lists of containers for businesses to use and to list on their website.
  • Long Term Aims: The to-go container working group is also exploring how to work with the NY Department of Health on how to make standard operating procedures easier for businesses to comply with, and improve knowledge and understanding of compliance. At the same time, the working group is staying abreast of developments for 135 legislation to ban styrofoam.

Microplastic group

  • Defining Goals and Objectives: The microplastics working group is finalizing a set of goals and objectives to focus future work. These will be posted publicly on the PFW website soon. These goals emphasize the importance of identifying research priorities and gaps, supporting standardized methodologies for microplastics sampling and analysis, increasing public education efforts, and engaging both manufacturers and policy makers to develop solutions, and considering parties across the supply chain in working towards a circular economy. The working group is exploring options for public-health focused goals and activities.

Plastic Straw Group Update:

  • Strategy: The straw group is working to identify effective strategies to reduce plastic straw pollution. This includes exploring the roles of business alliances, in particular the impacts of getting all the restaurants and groups in a downtown area on board with the same straw policy, and the role of customer support.
  • Plastic Straw Upon Request Policies: the straw working group is discussing the possibility of starting a running list of straw campaigns, and having a database of the different kinds of plastics legislation that people can consult. This would allow people to easily locate local ordinances and other resolutions, especially those relevant to plastic straws.
  • Pros and cons of straw alternatives: The straw working group is building out pros and cons of the available straw alternatives, such as paper straws, aluminum straws, and the reusable straws such as stainless steel straws.

Join us for the PFWP Meeting on March 23, 2018

Plastics Free Waters Partnership NY/NJ Meeting –  Agenda

March 23, 2018 –  10:00 AM – 2:15 PM

US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 2              

290 Broadway, New York, NY 10007  Room 27A

Airport-like security: bring an ID, arrive early, allow 30 mins to gain entrance, and expect delays

BYO cup and lunch. This is a ZERO WASTE meeting!

Item Time Lead
Pre-meeting Networking

(BYO cup)

9:30 – 10:00
Opening Remarks 10:00- 10:10 Javier Laureano


Panel discussion EJ

with Q&A

5 min introduction by each panelist


Open forum

10:10 – 11:30



Ana Baptista (The New School)


-Javier Laureano (EPA2)

-Melissa Iachan (NYLPI)

-PS 15 K Students x 5 (Cafeteria Culture)

Break 11.30 – 11.45 PS 15 students display data and answer questions
Workgroup and Partner Updates:

            -Straws Ordinance -Christina Manto & Noah Chesnin (Wildlife Conservation Society)

-NYC DEP Trash Free Waters- Sara Lupson  

-Bags – Jordan Christensen (Citizens Campaign for the Environment)

-Policy – Sandra Meola (NY/NJ Baykeeper)

-NYC Polystyrene Ban Bill update – Melissa Iachan (NYLPI)

      -Steering & brief 6IMDC  – Debby Lee Cohen (Cafeteria Culture)

-Microplastics (TBC)

11:45 – 12:20 Workgroup Leads,

and Partners

Break 12:20- 12:30
Workgroup Sessions/working lunch (BYO):

Bags, Microplastics, Straws, Bottles,

To-go Boxes, Policy, Messaging/Website, Balloons, Steering

12:30 – 2:00 Workgroup Leads
Wrap up & Workgroup announcements 2 – 2:20 Workgroup Leads
    Optional after-meeting networking        2:45 – 4:00                    Barley Corn

23 Park Place

New York NY 10007




U.S. EPA Requires Plastic Manufacturer Protect Santa Clara River from Pollution

Valencia company will also recycle plastic, reducing purchases by 270 tons per year

Contact Information: 

Nahal Mogharabi (


LOS ANGELES—The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reached an agreement with Canyon Plastics, Inc. to resolve federal Clean Water Act violations. The company has corrected the deficiencies found at its facility in Valencia, Calif., and obtained a stormwater permit. In addition to paying a $19,000 penalty, Canyon Plastics has committed to install new recycling equipment at a cost of $292,000.

Canyon Plastics, located at 28455 Livingston Avenue, uses large quantities of small plastic pellets, known as “nurdles,” as raw material to manufacture plastic products. During a September 2015 inspection, EPA found the facility did not have a permit to discharge industrial stormwater and had not implemented practices to reduce the discharge of pollutants to local waterways. The inspectors found leaked or spilled nurdles throughout the facility’s waste management area and loading docks, and a lack of containment systems such as mesh screens within storm drain inlets. These deficiencies likely resulted in nurdles polluting Halsey Canyon Creek, a tributary to the Santa Clara River.

“The Santa Clara River is home to the endangered Southern California steelhead trout, and plastic pollution further degrades their habitat,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Canyon Plastics must install the necessary controls and operate in a way that prevents polluted runoff from reaching the river.”

Nurdles are plastic beads about 1/5 of an inch in diameter. They are widely used in manufacturing and contribute to the growing problem of plastic debris in the nation’s inland and coastal waters. Once nurdles wash into storm drains and out to open water, they can be eaten by fish, birds and other wildlife. Ingested plastic can displace food in the animals’ stomach, and may lead to starvation. In the marine environment, plastic debris has been found to absorb persistent, toxic chemicals that are harmful to humans and have been shown to travel up the food chain.

As part of the settlement, Canyon Plastics will spend $292,000 to purchase and install new equipment that will recycle plastic scraps generated at its facility and use them as raw material for some of its product lines. The new reuse system will reduce the purchase of new plastic by an estimated 270 tons per year.

Under the Clean Water Act, plastic manufacturers are required to obtain authorization under the State’s industrial stormwater permit to discharge stormwater to surface waters. The permit requires the installation of controls and use of best management practices to prevent or minimize the discharges of pollutants in runoff from their operations. Such discharges may contain pollutants such as plastic resin pellets, flakes or powders.

“The Regional Board is pleased to work with U.S. EPA to eliminate discharges of trash and plastics given their significant impacts on fish and wildlife”, said Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board Chair Irma Munoz.  “The Santa Clara River is a precious natural resource for our region, and compliance with the industrial stormwater permit in all of our watersheds is crucial to protecting aquatic life from harmful plastic nurdles.”

Today’s action is subject to a 30-day public comment period that ends on January 3, 2017. To provide public comments, or for more information, please visit:

For more information on the stormwater permits under the Clean Water Act, please visit:


EPA Provides $365,000 for Trash Free Waters in New Jersey and New York Waters


Contact Information: 

John Martin (


(New York, N.Y. – Sept. 26, 2016) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded $365,000 for projects that will prevent plastic trash from polluting water bodies in New Jersey and New York. The funding was awarded to seven organizations through a competitive grant process run by New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC), and that is aimed at stimulating comprehensive solutions to the burgeoning problem of plastics in lakes, rivers, harbors and oceans.

“Our oceans and lakes and rivers are being choked with plastic debris,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “Estimates are that by 2025 there will be 1 ton of plastic for every 3 tons of fish in the world’s oceans. These projects offer real solutions that focus on reducing plastic waste at the source.”

Aquatic plastic pollution is getting worse every year. It is estimated that over 8 million metric tons of plastic pollution enter the world’s oceans annually. By 2025, this amount is expected to more than double. A recent study by NY/NJ Baykeeper showed that at least 165 million plastic particles are floating in the New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary at any given time.

This grant program is focused on projects that will support the EPA’s Trash Free Waters initiative’s goal of reducing the volume of plastic trash entering fresh and marine water environments, approaching zero-loading of trash into U.S. waters within 10 years.

The recipients of the New York/New Jersey Aquatic Trash Prevention 2016 Grant Program are:

NYC Department of Environmental Protection – $32,500

The NYC Department of Environmental Protection will receive $32,500 to help fund a project that will encourage participating supermarkets and grocery stores to reduce their use of single-use bags. “The Trash Free NYC Waters: Bag Challenge” will use a combination of public outreach, market-based research and creative messaging to educate the supermarket industry and the communities they serve on how their operations and decisions directly impact surrounding waterbodies. The challenge ultimately aims to reduce the pollution of waterbodies by creating a lasting behavior shift in how supermarkets operate and interact with customers, ensuring the long-term preservation of New York City waterbodies.

Project contact: John Brock, 718-595-3845,

North Hudson Sewerage Authority – $48,125

The North Hudson Sewerage Authority will use a $48,125 grant to fund its “Preventing Aquatic Trash” program. The Preventing Aquatic Trash program will reduce the volume of plastic trash entering the Hudson River from New Jersey by retrofitting 250 faceplate covers on catch basins in high volume traffic areas in Union City and West New York, New Jersey to capture trash before it enters waterways. The North Hudson Sewerage Authority’s current maintenance staff will install and maintain the faceplate grate covers. This strategy has proven to be effective in reducing trash flow to waterways in other areas and has been successfully implemented by the North Hudson Sewerage Authority in Hoboken, New Jersey. North Hudson Sewerage Authority will measure the effectiveness of this project to reduce plastic trash entering the Hudson by measuring increase of trash captured by maintenance staff when they clean the catch basins.

Project contact: Richard J. Wolff, Ph.D, 201-963-6368,

The Product Stewardship Institute, Inc. – $56,425

The Product Stewardship Institute (“PSI) will use a $56,425 grant to reduce the amount of single-use plastics— including bags, bottles, cups and lids, straws, and plates— that are used by guests and customers of waterfront commercial properties along Long Island’s North Fork. The Product Stewardship Institute will work with local businesses, including waterfront hotels, restaurants and campgrounds, to measure each business’ “plastic footprint” to determine the amount and types of single-use plastic products they use, and identify reusable, compostable, or recyclable alternatives. PSI will also develop source reduction plans for each business and create procurement policies that will minimize or eliminate the number of disposable plastics each business uses. Finally, the Public Stewardship Institute will develop model municipal and tourism board policies that encourage waterfront businesses to reduce disposable plastic products use, and will create a Marine Debris Prevention Toolkit for Commercial Properties that will provide step-by-step guidance for coastal communities throughout the nation.

Project contact: Scott Cassel, 617-236-4822,

Hudson River Foundation/NY-NJ Harbor & Estuary Program – $67,693

The Hudson River Foundation, the NY-NJ Harbor & Estuary Program and Montclair State

University’s Passaic River Institute will use a $67,693 grant to collect data on how litter is generated and dispersed in New Jersey, including “floatables” entering local waterways, in order to target reduction strategies. This project’s objectives will culminate in an outreach campaign to communities and stakeholders in the NY-NJ Harbor Estuary. Ultimately, this project will provide data on the most prominent sources and types of litter so that pollution prevention measures can be targeted by material, by watershed, and by key stakeholders.

Project contact: Ariane Giudicelli, 212-483-7667,

Cafeteria Culture – $60,111

Cafeteria Culture, a project of the Fund for the City of New York, will use a $60,111 grant to help fund its COMMUNITY ARTS+MEDIA for TRASH FREE WATERS project. COMMUNITY ARTS+MEDIA for TRASH FREE WATERS is a school-community partnership and demonstration project in three low-income, urban communities of color with the goal of reducing plastic street litter and increasing recycling via youth-led, community-designed education and engagement campaigns that focus on the negative environmental and health impacts of land-based plastic marine pollution. Students at each participating school take on leadership roles in their own community and work with intergenerational teams to conduct litter characterization studies and clean-ups, to pilot and promote rewards systems with local businesses, and to design creative messaging campaigns via social media, short videos and other methods. Videos created through CAM 4 TFW are promoted citywide and nationally via CafCu’s Youtube channel, inspiring other low-income, public housing, and immigrant communities to replicate similar initiatives.

Project contact: Debby Lee Cohen, 917-282-0253,

Bronx River Alliance – $52,866

The Bronx River Alliance’s “Project WASTE” (Waterway and Street Trash Elimination) will use a $52,886 grant to reduce the amount of plastic trash entering the Bronx River from upstream sources. Working with NYC Parks’ Natural Resource Group and the New York Botanical Gardens, the Bronx River Alliance will conduct floatable trash assessments at trash collection booms and at accumulation hot spots in upstream, midstream and downstream locations, and will analyze the data to determine the sources of the trash. Staff will conduct outreach to businesses identified as sources to explore options for reducing disposable trash generation, and to provide information to local officials to support infrastructure solutions (such as trash bins and fencing). Alliance staff will also work with 2 Bronx and 2 Westchester High Schools to educate students about the impact of loose trash on the environment, and to support students to generate and carry out their own public awareness projects. Continued trash boom and hot spot assessments will help evaluate the effectiveness of project activities.

Project contact: Michelle Luebke, 718-430-4690,

Clean Water Fund – $47,250

The Clean Water Fund will receive $47,250 to fund its “ReThink Disposable in Jersey” program.

The Clean Water Fund’s ReThink Disposable is a voluntary program that helps the food industry reduce solid waste at the source by driving down the use of take-out packaging. This project will provide marine debris education to restaurants, food trucks and other food establishments along the boardwalk and in the downtown areas of Asbury Park, New Jersey. The Clean Water Fund will conduct interactive trainings for up to 10 interested businesses and other stakeholders and will provide technical assistance at 1-4 food establishments or other venues in the city. The Clean Water Fund will also increase the visibility of the project through social media, the organization’s mailing list and through tabling events along the Asbury Park boardwalk and other locations.

Project contact: Amy Goldsmith, 732-963-9826,

For more information on the EPA’s trash-free waters program, visit:

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