Bronx, NY, July 10, 2017 – The Wildlife Conservation Society’s five zoological parks in New York City, the Bronx Zoo, New York Aquarium, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo and Queens Zoo are joining 19 Association of Zoos and Aquariums parks nationwide to announce the launch of a consumer campaign and business commitment to drive a shift away from using single-use plastics.

The campaign is called “In Our Hands.” The link for the campaign is here.

In WCS zoological parks, we are:

Eliminating plastic straws, cold drink lids, and single-use carryout plastic bags;

Significantly reducing or eliminating single-use plastic beverage containers by Dec. 1, 2020; and

Providing and showcasing innovative alternatives to single-use plastic for our visitors.

The Aquarium Conservation Partnership (ACP) is leading this national effort. The ACP is a first-of-its-kind collaboration of 19 AZA-accredited public aquariums across North America committed to advancing science-based conservation and advocacy of the world’s oceans, lakes and rivers through public action, business leadership and policy changes aimed at addressing major threats to aquatic environments. The ACP’s primary focus is working collaboratively to reduce the sources of ocean and freshwater plastic pollution.

“According to a recent report, if we don’t act now, by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean pound for pound than fish,” said Jon Forrest Dohlin, Director of the New York Aquarium.  “We use single-use plastics for a few minutes of convenience but they can remain in our ocean for centuries.  The New York Aquarium and all our WCS zoos, including the Bronx Zoo, are at the forefront of efforts to build public awareness and drive demand for alternatives. Small, day-to-day solutions are in our hands – collectively our visitors, online supporters and communities can reduce plastic pollution and help safeguard ocean wildlife.”

From 1964 to 2015, global plastic production increased twentyfold, rising from 15 million to 322 million tons. Approximately 8.8 million tons of plastic enters the ocean from land each year, which equals one dump truck of plastic per minute.  This amount is expected to double by 2025.

Nearly 700 species of marine animals have documented instances of being negatively impacted by marine trash, most of which is plastic. Of particular concern are plastic fragments less than 5 mm in size, known as microplastic, which are either manufactured at this size or created when larger plastic items break down into smaller pieces.  Their small size enables microplastics to enter the food chain at the lowest trophic levels. On average, Americans throw away approximately 200 pounds of plastic every year, including 100 billion plastic bags, and 10 percent of this plastic waste is recycled.