Cost to West Coast Communities of Dealing with Trash and Reducing Marine Debris
Through a 2012 contract with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Kier Associates quantified the cost spent by 90 cities, large and small, in California, Oregon and Washington located along the coast or in watersheds draining to the ocean, to clean up litter and prevent trash from entering the ocean or waterways leading to it. The study finds that these West Coast communities, regardless of their size, spend an annual average $13 per resident to control litter and reduce marine debris. Nearly fifty million people live in these three states and over 85 percent of them live on the ocean or along rivers leading to it. West Coast communities are, therefore, spending more than $520,000,000 a year to combat litter and prevent marine debris. This public cost burden makes a compelling argument for accelerating the search for effective strategies to reduce and prevent trash streams that enter our waterways and contribute to marine debris.