Keynote: Marine Litter

Marine Litter Showcase (2.25 CEU)

Tuesday, September 26, 2017
15:00 – 17:15
Ballroom I & II


Chad Pregracke, Founder & President, Living Lands & Waters, Illinois

Chad Pregracke

Chad Pregracke is a modern day leader and proof that one person can make a difference. What started as one man’s crusade at age 23 to clean up the Mississippi River has evolved into a cultural movement that had resulted in more than eight million pounds of garbage being cleaned out of America’s rivers. The vision and leadership skills that Mr. Pregracke possesses have inspired more than 70,000 people to volunteer their time and resources. Mr. Pregracke has always loved the water, growing up in Hampton, Illinois, with the Mississippi River literally in his backyard. His family spent the majority of their time on, in and around the river. Mr. Pregracke’s first jobs were working on the river, as a commercial shell diver, commercial fisherman and barge hand. Working on the river gave Mr. Pregracke a first hand and close up look at the shores that were littered with toxic trash. At age 17, Mr. Pregracke began calling government agencies to tell them about the problem. None of his calls resulted in government action, and the trash problem seemed to be escalating every year. Mr. Pregracke decided that it was up to him to make a difference and clean the rivers. At age 23, Mr. Pregracke founded Living Lands & Waters, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to preserving U.S. rivers. Mr. Pregracke worked tirelessly calling businesses to ask for an appointment just to tell the story of what he was seeing along the banks of the river. Mr. Pregracke heard “no” during every phone call and was near emotional bottom. After begging with a receptionist at Alcoa, Mr. Pregracke finally secured his first appointment. Alcoa took a chance on the young river kid and gave him his first check for $8,400, enough to cover expenses for his first cleanup project. Since 1998, the organization has grown to include more than 10 full-time employees, a fleet of four barges, two towboats, one crane, six workboats, two skid steers, five work trucks, and a large box truck to haul trash. Mr. Pregracke remains the driving force behind the organization and still jumps in the water, gets his hands dirty and tosses trash into the boat. His efforts have earned him global notoriety.

Jenna Jambeck, Associate Professor of Environmental Engineering, University of Georgia
Jenna Jambeck

Dr. Jenna Jambeck is an Associate Professor in the College of Engineering at the University of Georgia (UGA). She has been conducting research on solid waste issues for 20 years with related projects on marine debris since 2001. She also specializes in global waste management issues and plastic contamination. Her work on plastic waste inputs into the ocean has been widely recognized by the global community and translated into policy discussions by the Global Ocean Commission, in testimony to U.S. Congress, G7, G20, and the United Nations Environment program. She has won awards for her teaching and research in the College of Engineering and the UGA Creative Research Medal, as well as a Public Service and Outreach Fellowship for 2016–2017. In 2014 she sailed across the Atlantic Ocean with 13 other women in XXpedition to sample land and open ocean plastic and encourage women to enter STEM disciplines. This trip translated into extensive outreach on this issue locally in K–12 schools and around the globe at speaking events. She is co-developer of the mobile app Marine Debris Tracker, a tool that continues to facilitate a growing global citizen science initiative. The app and citizen science program has documented the location of over one million litter and marine debris items removed from our environment throughout the world.

Costas Velis, Lecturer in Resource Efficiency Systems, University of Leeds, and Chair, ISWA Marine Litter Task Force, United Kingdom

Costas Velis

Costas Velis is Lecturer in Resource Efficiency Systems at the School of Civil Engineering, University of Leeds. He coordinates the Circular Economy & Resource Recovery network, as part of the Cites University Theme. His research portfolio focuses on innovation for closing the materials loop and recovering energy from secondary resources (wastes). He serves as Chair for ISWA Marine Litter Task Force and Vice Chair for the Waste to Energy Resource and Technology Council-UK. Mr. Velis is the recipient of many prestigious international awards for his research papers, including the ISWA Publication Award 2015 and 2013, the CIWM James Jacskon Award for 2015, and the ICE Thomas Telford Award for 2014.

Gunilla Carlsson, Communications Director, SYSAV Malmö, Chair, ISWA Working Group on Communication, and ISWA Board Member, Sweden

Gunilla Carlsson

Gunilla Carlsson possesses more than 15 years of working experience in the field of media and communication science. She obtained a Bachelor’s degree in media and communication science from the University of Lund, Sweden. Ms. Carlsson has worked in municipalities, regional organizations and limited companies—not only as an employee, but also as a driven manager and consultant. Her best skills are organizational communication and strategic views of communication.

Håkan Rylander, Managing Director, H Rylander Management AB, and Fundraiser, ISWA Marine Litter Task Force, and former President of ISWA (1996–98), Sweden

Hakan Rylander

Håkan Rylander has worked in the field of waste management since 1972. He has operated recycling centers, waste-to-energy plants, biological treatment facilities and landfills. Since his retirement as CEO of the Sysav Group in October 2014 Mr. Rylander has been working as consultant concerning energy recovery, biogas as a vehicle fuel, cleaning technology of leachate from landfills. Since 2012, he has acted as Treasurer for the ISWA Board of Directors, and is currently involved in raising funds for their Marine Litter Task Force.