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5 Gyres Institute to present lecture on problem of plastic pollution

Posted by Jayme Blaschke
University News Service
March 26, 2014

5 Gyres

Anna Cummins and Marcus Eriksen, co-founders of environmental organization 5 Gyres, will deliver a public lecture on the growing hazard of plastic pollution Tuesday, April 8 at Texas State University.

The lecture will be held at 7 p.m. in Centennial Hall on campus. The event is free and open to the public. Attendees are invited to bring any personal care products that contain micro-beads as part of the first-ever "takeback" event held nationwide.

The 5 Gyres Institute advocates for a planet free of plastic pollution. A non-profit organization, 5 Gyres is dedicated to researching the issue of plastics in the world’s oceans and engaging communities in systemic change. In 2011, 5 Gyres completed the first global survey of plastic marine pollution, finding evidence of plastic across all five subtropical “gyres” — oceanic current systems where plastic waste accumulates.

In 2012, 5 Gyres lead the first-ever survey of plastic pollution in the Great Lakes.

"We discovered high concentrations of primary source plastic pollution, the so-called micro-beads made from polyethylene and polypropylene of the exact size, color and type as those found in personal care products employed as exfoliants," said Eriksen, 5 Gyres science director. "We found over 450,000 of the micro-beads per square kilometer in Lake Erie. When you’re putting out trillions and trillions of plastic beads into the ecosystem, you’ve got the potential for a serious problem. Once a fish swallows a micro-bead, mistaking it for food, that toxic piece of plastic is in our food chain."

5 Gyres uses these scientific findings to engage corporate partners, policymakers and the general public. The message: Reduce plastic pollution by improving product design and recovery systems, and increase individuals’ awareness on the perils of plastic waste.

Cummins and Eriksen will be available for media interviews and photo opportunities for one hour prior to the lecture. For more information, contact Melissa Phillips at (512) 744-3745 or via email at m_p164@txstate.edu.