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Environment

Mississippi Mayors Tackle Plastic Pollution

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MRCTI
Volunteers in three pilot cities (Baton Rouge, St. Louis & St. Paul) participated in the MRCTI's Plastic Pollution Initiative.

The majority of litter in and along the Mississippi River is made of plastic. That's according to a new study from the Mississippi River Cities and Town Initiative and its partners in the plastic pollution project conducted in March and April, 2021.

Dr. Jenna Jambeck, from the University of Georgia, is one of the researchers who analyzed the pollution data from three pilot cities. In the St. Louis area, volunteers found 28,000 items including cigarette butts, plastic food wrappers and bags, beverage bottles, cans, and other litter.

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Graphic showing pollution tracked in the St. Louis area as part of the MRCTI plastic pollution project.

Bettendorf Mayor Bob Gallagher is the co-chair of the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative. He says St. Louis is different because it's the confluence of the Mississippi, Missouri, and Illinois rivers. And it's important to know the sources of the pollution, its concentration, and the manufacturers upstream. The initiative will bring the "citizen science" project to the Quad Cities area in the near future. That may be as soon as next month.

Three years ago, the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative started the effort to reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in the river, the Gulf of Mexico, and oceans around the world.

Now, more cities and towns will host citizen science pollution projects. And they'll use the information to help people and groups take action to address the problem.

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