Ocean plastics pollution is a global problem that has attracted attention far beyond environmental groups. Consumer brand owners are getting involved, resin suppliers are backing cleanup efforts and a range of international governments also are looking at ways to control the flow of plastics into waterways.
As Steve Toloken writes, key members of the U.S. Senate have started talks into supporting some global project, similar to efforts focused on disease eradication. This is a complex issue, obviously, but one of the things Steve mentions is that the U.S. currently spends about $12 million of its foreign aid budget toward battling marine plastics.
So some level of spending is there. But $12 million doesn't go very far. And the federal budget tops $4 trillion, so $12 million isn't exactly a big commitment. To compare, here's a random sample of other projects the federal government recently budgeted $12 million for (according to a 15-minute Google search):