Some communities in Southern California are taking a low-tech approach to reducing plastic marine debris -- they're installing expensive screens on storm drains. According to this story in the Los Angeles Times, 16 cities are installing the stainless steel screens on nearly 12,000 catch basins -- a project that officials expect to stop 840,000 pounds of debris from reaching the Pacific Ocean each year. The screens cost up to $4,000 per catch basin -- and Charles Moore with the Algalita Marine Research Foundation is suggesting that the plastics industry should pick up the tab. "You can't put this external cost to the throwaway society onto the municipalities and taxpayers," he told the Times. "They're asked to do all that work, when really, the plastic industry itself needs to be held responsible." The screens aren't going to completely stop plastic marine debris -- far from it. According to the story, they won't stop small fragments of plastic, which will escape through the 5-millimeter mesh. And during heavy rains, the devices will swing open to avoid flooding. Still, if the project is successful at reducing marine debris, expect to see other communities follow California -- and don't be surprised if they make the case that the plastics industry should be responsible for the expense.
Should plastics firms pay to screen Calif. storm drains?
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