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Center for U.S. and Mexican Law and French Embassy host film screening at UH on threat of plastics in the ocean

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The University of Houston Law Center’s Center for U.S. and Mexican Law led a dialogue on ways to address the growing amount of plastic in the world’s oceans during a roundtable discussion on the University of Houston campus.

Nov. 20, 2019 – Experts from a variety of fields described the impacts that plastic has on business, consumerism public health and law at a recent film screening and panel discussion in the SEC Auditorium on the University of Houston campus.

The event began with a screening of the documentary "Oceans: The Mystery of the Missing Plastic," and was sponsored by the University of Houston Law Center’s Center for U.S. and Mexican Law, the Embassy of France and the Consulate General of France in Houston, French Ameri-can Climate Talks and the Texas OneGulf Center of Excellence. The French Ameri-can Climate Talks (FACTS) series, an initiative of the French Embassy and the French Consulate’s Office of the Scientific Attaché , was held at locations around the country in addition to UH.

Following the film was a panel discussion that featured the following speakers:

  • Ika Paul-Pont, Researcher, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique
  • Laura Jurgens, Assistant Professor, Marine Biology Department, Texas A&M Galveston
  • Eric Bittner, Professor, Department of Chemistry, University of Houston
  • Sarah Mason, Division Manager for Recycling and Environmental Services, City of Houston Solid Waste Management Department

Panelists discussed current activities that support new behaviors and norms of plastic consumption, and agreed that a reduction of single-use plastics is the most effective method for individuals to curb the negative impacts of plastic consumption.

Alfonso López de la Osa Escribano, director of Center for U.S. and Mexican Law at the Law Center, served as the moderator and told attendees that the presence of plastic in the oceans needs to be addressed from a multidisciplinary approach, and requires a holistic and international perspective.

According to the documentary, 99 percent of plastic that enters the ocean goes missing, in part because of the gradual breakdown of plastic into smaller pieces as it moves through river and ocean currents. The film also analyzed the lifecycle of polluted plastics as they enter oceans, highlighting the current recorded scientific research in comparison to the vast amount of studies that are still needed.

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