WILMINGTON — A local agency focused on reducing single-use plastics in waterways has moved location in an effort to expand its reach.
Plastic Ocean Project has relocated to the MARBIONC facility, part of the UNCW CREST Research Park. MARBIONC helps drive research for “developing cutting edge products, solutions and technologies that pertain to the ocean.”
MARBIONC works with North Carolina’s marine biotechnology industry to help workforce, economic, and environmental solutions globally.
“This vision aligns quite well with Plastic Ocean Project’s mission of solving the problems of plastic pollution,” according to a press release from POP.
“Now, more than ever, we need to expand our efforts,” POP’s director Bonnie Monteleone said in the release. “The decision to join the research community at MARBIONC will provide more opportunities for local and worldwide collaboration to expedite solutions to plastic pollution. We could not do the work that benefits nature and mankind without the kind support of our POP community.”
POP does educational outreach and frequent area cleanups. Its volunteers collected nearly six tons of trash — 11,780 pounds — in 2022. For every 25 pounds collected, it allows the nonprofit to plant one tree. It’s part of the Trees4Trash program; the nonprofit planted 471 trees last year.
This effort began in 2019 in an effort to mitigate the damage caused by Hurricane Florence.
POP also operates a research lab and collaborates with universities, other environmental nonprofits and all 15 of NC’s Riverkeepers. Last year, over 120 samples were analyzed including some from as far away as Alaska.
The new location will triple lab space for POP’s research team to monitor coastlines and waterways and find solutions to combat plastic pollution.
“Moving to MARBIONC has allowed POP to foster new relationships amongst researchers in other fields and collaborate with them on our projects,” lab director Kayla West said in a release.
A ribbon cutting and open house of its new space will be hosted Thursday, Feb. 9, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at 5598 Marvin K. Moss Ln, Suite #2009, located off of Masonboro Loop Rd.
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