Plastic Pollution Impacts on Coastal North Carolina

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Plastic Pollution Impacts on Water Quality are

Top Priority for Coastal Communities

Coastal Carolina Riverwatch (CCRW) is home to the North Carolina Marine Debris Symposium (NCMDS). Created through collaboration, the NCMDS is the first sustained annual marine debris program in the State. Partners include the Duke University Marine Laboratory, Duke Law and Policy Clinic, Plastic Ocean Project, Carolina Recycling Association, and others. View the agenda – click here.




As part of the CCRW Water Quality for Fisheries Program, plastic pollution has been identified as one of the top five water quality impacts to coastal North Carolina fisheries.

Plastic pollution has received a significant amount of media attention the last few years, but there is still a dire need to establish regulatory policies and implement effective infrastructure in order to mitigate the harmful impacts of plastics on aquatic ecosystems.

Plastics can increase toxicity in water and marine life due to the presence of chemical additives that can leach out. Each year, between 4.8 and 12.7 million tons of plastic ends up in the ocean worldwide. Unfortunately, only 10% of plastics produced globally actually goes through the recycling process while the rest enters the environment, sits in landfills, or burns (Michelson, 2021).

Current Coastal Carolina Riverwatch Plastic Pollution Prevention Projects:

  • Microplastics Research in the New River
  • Plastics Capture and Removal Infrastructure and Research Projects (Trash Trout)
  • NC Plastic Prevention Policy Workshop
  • NC Marine Debris Symposium

We cannot recycle-away the coastal concerns regarding plastic pollution. It will take improved infrastructure, strong policy and enforcement, continued research, and collaborative outreach to make long-lasting and sustainable change. With greater than 1,200 marine species impacted by plastic pollution, the time to act is now.”

– Lisa Rider, Executive Director, CCRW

Read more about Plastic Pollution Impacts to coastal North Carolina communities and what you can do by clicking here.

Join us for the NC

Marine Debris Symposium

Hear from leaders in plastic pollution prevention efforts going on right here in North Carolina.

Learn how local government planners, solid waste representatives, researchers, citizen scientists, advocates, and local elected officials can work together to prevent plastic pollution in the State of North Carolina.


October 12-14th, 2022


Duke University Marine Lab in Beaufort and LiveStreaming

Click here to Register
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