Trash floating in McKellar Lake in 2014.
Mayors along the Mississippi River want to reduce plastic waste in the river by 20 percent by 2020.
The mayors announced the goal Thursday, during the annual meeting the Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative (MRCTI), a group of 85 mayors from cities on the river from Minnesota to Louisiana.
Possibly up to 40 percent of the plastic pollution in the Gulf of Mexico comes from the Mississippi River, said Mayor Rita Albrecht of Bemidji, Minn.
“Plastics are what we refer to as a persistent pollutant,” explained Mayor Lionel Johnson of St. Gabriel, La. and MRCTI co-chair. “Plastics don’t break down, they simply become smaller and eventually turn into a dangerous confetti that spreads toxins and accumulates in the food chain eventually harming all of us through the food we eat and the water we drink.”
A sea of trash in McKellar Lake.
State legislators stood with the mayors Thursday, pleading their support and help. Mississippi state Rep. Abe Hudson, speaking for the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators, said he could help form a plastic waste reduction commission.
“Plastic pollution is a big problem throughout our watershed and reducing it will be a complex effort involving all of us including recycling, waste management, and greater consumer awareness to reduce their consumption of single-use plastics,” said Minnesota State Rep. Rick Hansen.