GBF 2020 - Fall

GAINING TRACTION ON SAYING “NO” TO DOCK FOAM By Heather Sargeant, Communications Director for Georgian Bay Forever Formed in the Fall of 2019, the Say “No” to Dock Foam Committee has made a lot of progress towards reducing and eventually eliminating unencapsulated polystyrene (PS) foam that is used to float many docks. The committee was formed because 13 cleanups in 2019 organized with the help of GBF, showed that foam was by far the most abundant litter picked up by 112 volunteers, and of that foammost of it was very visibly dock foam. In 2020, so many things have progressed on mitigating the source of this pollution • GBF promised and delivered a report , Problems with Polystyrene Foam: Environmental fate and effects in the Great Lakes that brings together peer-reviewed scientific studies on the effects of PS foam on wildlife, and reports of where it has been littered (find it at: ). An excerpt of that report by Lisa Erdle notes, “PS foam can contain two types of chemicals: (1) additives and polymeric raw materials (e.g. monomers) originating from the plastics, and (2) chemicals adsorbed from the surrounding environment. Overtime, these chemicals can leach out of plastics and often these leachates can act as toxic or endocrine disrupting chemicals. When ingested, PS microplastics pose adverse effects to wildlife. Laboratory experiments show negative impacts of PS on growth, survival, feeding and swimming behaviour, hepatosomatic index (HSI), and reproduction (Cole et al., 2015; Sussarellu et al., 2016; Qiang and Cheng 2019; Yu et al., 2018). Under certain conditions, PS foam leaches styrene, benzene, and ethylben- zene which have known toxic properties (Thaysen et al., 2018). The leaching of PS monomers is one of the reasons why there is greater concern with polystyrene relative to other types of plastic.” • Swap out your dock education . With your support, the Committee met several times since Fall 2019 to gather information on alternatives to “open” or unencapsulated dock foam, and talked to one Parry Sound retailer who sold it, and promised to stop over the next 1 to 2 years. The committee’s aim is to educate consumers, retailers and municipalities about the pollution prob- lems with unencapsulated PS foam for docks, and work to provide information on alternatives. To date, this information, com- bined with the report has been shared with community associations, GBF’s email list, the GBA, and in the Township of Georgian Bay’s newsletter. We have talked with representatives from the Township of Tiny, Collingwood, and of course The Township of The Archipelago (see next point). There are plans to talk to other municipali- ties. To find the cumulated information on unencapsulated dock foam alternatives, please visit: • Removal from the market—partnership with the Township of The Archipelago (TOA) . TOA has been working on its own and in concert with GBF and the committee to mitigate PS foam pollution. In August, TOA arranged a meeting with the honour- able MPP Yurek, Minister of the Environ- ment, Conservation and Parks to discuss banning unencapsulataed PS foam use for docks at the Assocation of Municipalities of Ontario virtual conference. GBF was invited to discuss the environmental effects of PS foam. While the government considers this information, GBF learned that the MPP from Parry Sound-Muskoka is also fully engaged in initiatives to mitigate this pollution. Back to TOA, in 2021, they will GBF’s 25 years inspires this memory “Georgian Bay Forever has been incredible to work with in our project investigating solutions to microfiber pollution. Through Georgian Bay Forever, we have been able to implement microfiber filters on over 100 washing machines. This collabora- tive research is teaching us a great deal about microfiber capture, and how to prevent microfibers from entering the Great Lakes. Georgian Bay Forever has been an invaluable resource for our research at the University of Toronto, and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to collaborate.” Thank you Lisa Erdle. Lisa Erdle researches the effects of microplastics on animals that are part of a Great Lakes food web. The Rochman Laboratory is working with GBF to Divert and Capture microfiber/plastic pollution. GBF commissioned Lisa to work on the report, Problems with Polystyrene Foam: Environmental Fate and Effects in the Great Lakes. “Georgian Bay Forever is a strategic partner of cottagers and municipalities applying science and sweat equity to identify and solve the dynamic challenges of this precious place we call Georgian Bay.” Thank you Township of The Archipelago , partner on Phragmites and mitigating unencapsulatad polystyrene foam litter from docks. present with GBF at the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Cities Mayors Conference and continue to work on how they can help assess and mitigate this problem with the help of community and cottage associations. There will be so much more to come. We know this pollution problem has not gone away—this summer’s cleanup results to date show that. We all thank the volunteers who cleaned their shorelines and sent in the data— it becomes powerful evidence for driving change, and for cleaning up litter that mars the beauty of Georgian Bay and can be a risk for wildlife. GBF, the Say “No” to Dock Foam committee, TOA, the GBA, and passionate community/cottage associations will continue efforts to mitigate this pollution through education, policy, and cleanup efforts—and grow the coalition of concern and action. Furthermore, GBF has been working with the Council of the Great Lakes Region, their partners, and our partners to bring Seabin technology (like surface water vacuum cleaners) to select spots in Georgian Bay to collect even more litter, and increase the data on what litter is polluting our water so we can work to stop it. None of this can be done without your care and support. Thank you. Say “No” to unencapsulated polystyrene foam used to float docks. 4 | FALL 2020 | GBF.ORG SAYING “NO” TO DOCK FOAM