Hawaiʻi Region

Plastic Pollution

Eliminating the impact of plastics in our ocean environment

Surfrider Foundation’s Plastic Pollution program aims to reduce the impacts of plastics in the marine environment by raising awareness about the dangers of plastic pollution and by advocating for a reduction of single-use plastics and the recycling of all plastics.

Most plastic pollution at sea starts out on land as litter on beaches, streets and sidewalks. Rain or overwatering flushes that litter through a storm drain system or directly to creeks, streams and rivers that lead to the ocean. After plastics enter the marine environment they slowly photodegrade into smaller pieces that marine life can mistake for food, sometimes with fatal results. Ocean gyres concentrate plastic pollution in five main areas of the world’s ocean and various research groups are bringing back alarming data documenting plastics impacts. 

In addition to land-based sources of plastic pollution, the Hawaiian islands receive a significant amount of ocean-based plastic pollution. Commercial fishing, from large nets and other gear that capture fish to baskets and bleach bottles, contribute a significant amount of plastic pollution that washes up on Hawaii coastlines. In an effort to combat commercial fishing pollution, the Surfrider Foundation Hawaii chapters have launched the North Pacific Hagfish Trap project.

Hawaii Single-Use Plastic Policies

Surfrider Foundation Hawaii Chapters have been on the forefront of passing local legislation aimed at reducing single-use plastics. Most of this work has been completed at the County level and includes:


Hawaii’s “Choose To Reuse” Outreach Campaign

To help reduce plastic usage in restaurants, Surfrider Foundation’s volunteer-led Ocean Friendly Restaurants program is launching an outreach campaign to educate about the safety of reusables and help restaurants choose reusable materials as a best option in terms of hygiene, economics and sustainability. This effort promotes five easy steps that restaurants can take to reduce unnecessary waste and save money.

Comprehensive Foodware Policy Toolkit (2020)

After over a decade of successfully advocating for and passing plastic policies such as bag, straw, and styrofoam bans, the Comprehensive Foodware Policy Toolkit focuses on the next generation of foodware bills that address plastic pollution in a more holistic and innovative manner. Foodware makes up a large proportion of solid waste and litter, and we see comprehensive foodware laws as the next step in making a larger impact.