Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler continued his swing through Atlanta. He kicked off his day with a visit to EPA’s Region 4 Headquarters, where he spoke to regional employees at an All Hands meeting. During the meeting, he thanked employees for the crucial work they have been doing despite the challenges posed by coronavirus. He also spoke about the agency’s goals for 2020, including continuing the PFAS Action Plan, connecting with underserved communities through the Brownfields programs, and striving to turn non-attainment areas into attainment.
Following the Region 4 All Hands meeting, Administrator Wheeler headed to Proctor Park, the home of the Proctor Creek Trash Trap Project. Trash capture in Atlanta’s Proctor Creek watershed serves as an example of interagency collaboration and private sector engagement to advance clean, trash-free communities. During his visit to the Proctor Creek watershed, Administrator Wheeler highlighted success of the Proctor Creek Trash Trap project and the partnership with Coca-Cola, as well as the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA), the City of Atlanta, the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance (WAWA), Groundwork Atlanta, and the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, Park Pride, Osprey Initiatives, LLC and Stormwater Systems, Inc.
“Eliminating marine litter has become one of EPA’s main priorities, and this site is one of 19 Designated Urban Waters areas around the country that targets such trash,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “The Proctor Creek Trash Trap Project is great example of how partnerships between public and private sectors can produce better environmental solutions for Americans.”
“We applaud the work of Coca-Cola, NRPA and all of their local partners on the ground in Atlanta to protect and restore this important watershed,” said EPA Region 4 Administrator Mary S. Walker. “Their work in the Proctor Creek watershed is a wonderful example of how public-private partnerships can result in a healthier environment for all.”
“At The Coca-Cola Company, we care about our oceans and waterways and want to help ensure that Proctor Creek remains a vibrant urban watershed for generations to come,” said Jon Radtke, Director of Water Sustainability, Coca-Cola North America. “Through these litter catchment systems, we hope to not only reduce pollution in our local waterways but also demonstrate the benefits that recycling brings to a local community.”
“This tour celebrates the legacy of resilience and collective power by members of Atlanta’s African-American communities represented by our organizations as key stakeholders lifting up this community initiated project. The process is just as important as the outcome,” said Dr. Na’Taki Osborne Jelks, WAWA Co-Founder. “WAWA is excited to share the impact of the community engagement and resource utilization that supports this project.”
“The Atlanta Department of Watershed Management is committed to improving the water quality in Proctor Creek and being a good steward of all our city’s 10 watersheds,” said Interim Department of Watershed Commissioner Mikita K. Browning. “We look forward to working with and supporting our fellow community stakeholders and environmental partners through the Trash Trap initiative to help keep our local creeks and streams clear of trash and debris.”
Thanks to the investment of Coca-Cola and the work of their local partners on the ground, trash capture devices, such as the bandalong and “litter gitters,” have been installed both in the main spine of Proctor Creek and in several tributaries. They are placed in accessible and highly visible areas close to elementary schools, greenways and pedestrian walking bridges where people can view first-hand the amount of in-stream trash being collected. This community-driven demonstration project aims to provide jobs, clean up the creek, and provide information about what trash is prevalent in the waterway, trash entry points, how much trash is collected and how much of it can be recycled.
Common trash from consumer goods makes up the majority of what eventually becomes marine debris, polluting our waterways and oceans. Plastics in the aquatic environment are of increasing concern because of their persistence and effect on the environment, wildlife, and human health. EPA’s Trash-Free Waters program is reducing the volume of trash entering U.S. waterways. For more information, visit: https://www.epa.gov/trash-free-waters.
This article originally appeared in the Environmental Protection Agency’s website. You can view the original press release here.