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Plastics Substance Flow Accounts

The OPC Marine Debris Resolution item #3 encourages new innovations to reduce plastic waste in the marine environment. One innovation is to identify alternatives that would biodegrade in the ocean and do not contain toxic materials. However, the effects and life-cycle of our current set of plastics need to be understood so alternatives can be developed.

Researchers at Chico State University calculated preliminary substance flow accounts for waste related to plastic packaging and products that may contribute to marine debris.  The work was coordinated in consultation with a project officer from the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC). The overall goal of the project was to understand the potential toxic hazards posed by plastic packaging waste in California’s aquatic environments through the creation of state-level substance flow accounts for plastic products of key concern.

The research aims were:

  1. identify and track the flows of the main thermoplastic resins (PET, PE, PVC, PP, PS) and all relevant additives through all relevant sectors
  2. identify emerging “safer substitutes”
  3. evaluate the methods and recommend next steps

Related Projects


Plastic debris near the mouth of Ballona Creek
Photo credit: Heal the Bay

OPC Staff Contact
Sarah Flores, Project Manager
sflores@scc.ca.gov