Durbin Visits Museum of Science and Industry To Tour 'The Blue Paradox' Exhibit Focused on Plastic Pollution

CHICAGO – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today visited the Museum of Science and Industry’s (MSI) ‘The Blue Paradox’ exhibit, an immersive experience focusing on the pervasiveness of plastics in the oceans and Great Lakes.

“Reducing plastic production starts with educating the public, which is exactly what MSI’s ‘The Blue Paradox’ exhibit is doing,” said Durbin. “This exhibit opens our eyes to the realities of plastic use and its impact on the world around us, especially our waters. We must do more to address our plastic addiction and the environmental damage it’s causing across our nation and the world.”

“It was an honor to have Senator Durbin join us at the Museum of Science and Industry for a critical conversation about the global issue of plastic pollution,”said Chevy Humphrey, President and CEO of the Museum of Science and Industry.“Through our partnership with SC Johnson and Conservation International, The Blue Paradox exhibit empowers visitors to understand and act against plastic pollution in our ocean and lakes. Senator Durbin's commitment, particularly with the Plastic Pellet Free Waters Act, underscores his dedication to preserving our environment. I hope this is the first in many more steps we take together towards a cleaner, healthier planet.”

“We’re so grateful to have the opportunity to partner with Senator Durbin’s office and the Museum of Science and Industry to increase awareness about what a massive threat plastic pollution is to the Great Lakes,” said Joel Brammeier, President and CEO of the Alliance for the Great Lakes. “Each year, 85 percent of the tens of thousands of pounds of litter our Adopt-a-Beach program volunteers remove from their local beaches is plastic that would otherwise never be removed from the Great Lakes. Unfortunately, what our volunteers are able to remove is only a fraction of the 22 million pounds of plastic that are estimated to enter the Great Lakes each year. It’s time for plastic producers to hold up their end of the bargain and start reducing plastic pollution at the source, and legislation like the Plastic Pellet Free Waters Act is essential to preserving the Great Lakes for generations to come.”

In July, Durbin reintroduced his Plastic Pellet Free Waters Act, which would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to prohibit the discharge of plastic pellets and other pre-production plastic into waterways from facilities and sources that make, use, package, or transport pellets. Plastic pellets, or nurdles, are the pre-production building blocks of nearly all plastic goods. Due to the low cost of producing these pellets, they are often washed down drains or dumped if they come in contact with other materials like dust and dirt. They are also often spilled both in the shipping and production process—eventually finding their way into our waterways, including oceans and the Great Lakes.

Last Congress, Durbin cosponsored U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley’s (D-OR) Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act, which would reduce plastic production, increase recycling, and protect frontline and fenceline communities from the burden of toxic emissions from plastic waste by changing the incentives of the industry. This bill would shift the burden of cleanup to the corporations that produced the plastics so they have financial motivation to end the burning and dumping; strengthen environmental justice protections; eliminate waste export loopholes; and extend existing laws across the nation that have been proven to work on the state and local level.