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Mississippi River Plastic Pollution Initiative: Connecting Mayors and Cities in a River-basin wide effort to Reduce Plastic Pollution

6 speakers

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The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) North America Office, MRCTI, the University of Georgia’s Debris Tracker, National Geographic Society, and other partners worked together on a pilot study for the Mississippi River Plastic Pollution initiative (MRPPI) to generate a first-ever snapshot of the state of plastic pollution along the Mississippi River. The data was collected through a ‘citizen science’ approach, enlisting the participation of hundreds of community volunteers. Debris Tracker, a free mobile phone app, was used to collect open access data. Three cities participated in the pilot study: Baton Rouge, Louisiana; St. Louis, Missouri; and St. Paul, Minnesota. The data gathered in the river basin and in the pilot communities was examined to understand the state of plastic litter in these cities. The goal was to generate as rich a picture as possible, within a dedicated timeframe, of the extent and type of litter that can make its way to the river. This panel session will present the findings from the first basin-wide assessment conducted in April 2021. This includes data on plastic pollution from the entire basin and a comparison across the pilot cities, including top litter items and densities. The panel will consist of 1 Mayor and representatives from MRCTI, UNEP NA, University of Georgia (Debris Tracker) and National Geographic Education. The goal of the panel is to illustrate how data can drive action and solutions in cities working towards more sustainable and resilient communities, serving as a catalyst for other regions in the world.