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National Aquarium Joins Global Campaign to Tackle Marine Litter

Aquariums around the world pledge to educate guests on the growing issue of plastic pollution


The National Aquarium joins almost 100 aquariums across five continents as a member of the new World Aquariums Against Marine Litter, a campaign expanding their commitment to address plastic pollution to the world stage. As the nation’s Aquarium, the nonprofit is one of two United States members leading the way through this new coalition.

The campaign, officially launched July 27, is organized by the European Union as part of the United Nations #CleanSeas campaign and Our Ocean Conference in Malta this October. Members are committed to using their trusted voices and connection to millions of annual guests as a platform to educate and inspire action to eliminate plastics from the ocean.

An estimated 10 million tons of litter enters the ocean each year. Millions of marine animals die because of marine litter, including sea birds, seals, whales, dolphins and turtles. It is estimated that by 2050 the ocean could contain more plastic than fish.

Promoting action through this coalition is the newest step in the Aquarium’s multi-year focus on addressing plastic pollution as a pressing ocean health issue.

As a founding member of the Aquarium Conservation Partnership (ACP), the organization is currently spearheading a national campaign with 18 Aquariums from coast-to-coast to educate consumers and guests about the effects of plastic pollution on wildlife and habitats and to share sustainability actions.

Aiming to lead by example, the National Aquarium has eliminated all single-use plastics in food service food ware, gift shop and catering events. Guests are now offered reusable, recyclable or compostable options for products traditionally made up of single-use, disposable plastics. The organization is working with partners to find new alternatives and business practices to work toward zero plastic operations.

The impact is notable. Since 2014, guest use of the Aquarium’s water bottle filling has saved approximately 650,000 plastic bottles from production and disposal. An estimated 135,000 single-use bottles will now be saved annually thanks to transition in food service areas, and an annual 1.3 million guests will see and hear about the importance of these sustainable choices.

The Aquarium is also the leader of the Maryland chapter of the International Coastal Cleanup Day and many other community conservation events, working with more than 5,000 volunteers to clean up more than 1 million pieces of litter since 1999.

For more information about World Aquariums Against Marine Litter, please visit: