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Plastic Pollution

Taking action to address and reduce plastic pollution is critical to the Advocacy work of Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper.


A throw-away culture has created a global increase in plastic production, increasing from 2.3 million tons in 1950 to 448 million tons by 2015.

Single-use plastic items are the most common items found at shoreline cleanup events in WNY. Once these plastic items enter our waterways they release toxins into the water, act as a sponge attracting chemical pollutants, and break down into smaller pieces, also known as microplastics, that negatively impact water quality, wildlife, habitat, and recreation.
Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper advocates for the reduction of plastic generation, which is a major contributor to atmospheric pollution and fossil fuel extraction. Through our volunteer cleanups and educational programming, we engage the local community with the issue and inspire participation in the solution. Together we can work towards a systemic solution to the global plastic pollution problem.
Along with that is our Nurdle Patrol and Plastic Monitoring efforts. Nurdles are small plastic pellets, about the size of a lentil, used in plastics manufacturing. This plastic pollution has been found on the shorelines of several waterways within the Niagara River Watershed. Nurdle Patrol Volunteers help us find and map the location of these nurdles to be included in a Nationwide Nurdle Patrol Project.
The Latest
Waterkeeper Data Used in AG Lawsuit
Opposition for public funds to build a plastic factory in Lockport
Here is a helpful guide to help restaurants reduce their use of single-use plastics and shift toward reusables!
Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper is celebrating the inclusion of a Polystyrene Ban in the NYS budget — Implemented on January 1, 2022.
As individuals you can continue to protect local waterways from plastic pollution by reducing your consumption of single-use plastic items and safely cleaning up litter. Share your knowledge about the global plastic pollution problem with a friend or family member. Contact your local representatives today and urge them to support the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act.
Extended Producer Responsibility
Only 5 percent of the plastic produced is actually recycled. Almost one-third of the waste generated in the United States is from plastic and packaging. Our own data shows plastics are the top trash collected at our volunteer cleanup efforts.
Recycling alone is not an effective solution. That’s why Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper supports Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for single-use plastic packaging. View the video below to learn more about EPR.