From 2023 to 2024, plastic pollution worsened. Increased industrial production and consumer consumption, coupled with insufficient recycling efforts, have exacerbated the issue. Expansion of e-commerce and online deliveries has led to a surge in packaging waste. Despite awareness campaigns and regulatory measures, the overall response from governments and industries remains inadequate to address the scale of pollution. As a result, plastic pollution continues to accumulate in oceans, waterways and ecosystems worldwide, posing significant threats to marine life and human health.

In 2023, the Nicholas School of Environment produced an in-depth special on the scale of the plastics problem, and how the Duke community was working toward solutions. Below are updates to what has happened in the plastics policy space since mid-2023, and some new developments in how Duke University supports scholarship and action to fight plastic pollution.