Over the course of six months, four teams of diverse, dedicated advocates against marine debris around the globe learned the importance of a systems approach, dug into the data, analyzed how to drive positive behavior change of plastic consumers, and searched strategically for tailored solutions to the wicked problem of plastic pollution.

Hosted by a collaboration between UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the Rady School of Management, this accelerated program (Challenge) was meant to be just the start in an interdisciplinary team approach to addressing the problem of plastic pollution in our oceans, with an emphasis on marine protected areas (MPAs) in Southern California Bight. The inaugural program ran January – June, 2021, and participants engaged in a series of virtual short courses, team-based research, and a final two-day hackathon challenge to pitch solutions to an expert panel.

The MPA Collaborative Network’s South Coast Specialist, Aubrie Fowler, and colleagues first developed a white paper on behavior change and social norms, “Leveraging Behavioral Intervention Frameworks to Change Household’s Plastic Consumption and Disposal Behaviors”. During a two-day hackathon that followed the research and white paper, her new team (Plastic Patrol) developed a targeted solution to incorporate youth leadership, competition between schools, and coastal stewardship to fight plastic pollution at its source. At the end of the hackathon event, SD Zero was announced the winner. SD Zero recently launched a new website to build support for their ordinance for plastic-free events in San Diego: https://wastezerooceanhero.com/

The Challenge organizers just published (open access!) key findings from the research completed this year during the Scripps-Rady Ocean Plastic Pollution Challenge. This research focuses on the San Diego region and presents ideas for preventing plastic from entering local MPAs.

Read the key findings here: Advances toward solutions for marine plastic pollution in southern California: Key recommendations of the white papers produced during the 2021 Scripps-Rady Ocean Plastic Pollution Challenge. This document includes: 1) a synthesis of all the findings of the white papers, including a table that divides them by stakeholder groups, and 2) a summary of each paper’s major findings and recommendations. For more in depth reports on each topic, check out all of the white papers, which can be downloaded on the Challenge website.

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