When you see the statistics on the amount of plastic and other trash that winds up in the ocean, the sheer size of the problem can seem shocking and unbelievable. Every year, 8 million metric tons of cigarette butts, plastic bags, fishing nets and other plastic waste get dumped or washed out to sea, according to the Ocean Conservancy. The pollution wreaks havoc on marine environments from the polar regions to the tropics, and it’s almost impossible to clean up once it reaches the ocean.
Faced with a global problem of this magnitude, individuals may wonder how they can make a difference. That’s why companies like Amgen look for ways to spark collective action close to home. On Sept. 21, hundreds of Amgen staff, family and friends spent their Saturday scouring beaches and waterways to collect plastic and other trash before it reaches the ocean, as part of Amgen’s annual beach cleanup effort.
Empowering Individuals to Take Collective Action
“Amgen is driven by its mission to serve patients, and we’re also committed to social responsibility for the company’s communities and the environment around the globe,” says Tanya Nunez, senior associate, Environmental, Health and Safety at Amgen in Thousand Oaks. “Coastal cleanup gives participants an opportunity to make a difference in their own backyards, while also contributing to a worldwide effort.”
This year marked the 14th consecutive year that Amgen has organized cleanup events to coincide with the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup, the largest coastal cleanup initiative in the world, and California Coastal Cleanup Day. Nearly 400 people participated in the events organized by Amgen teams in Massachusetts, San Francisco, Puerto Rico, Tampa and Thousand Oaks. Amgen Hong Kong held a beach cleanup on Sept. 12, and Amgen British Columbia has an event on Oct. 23. Altogether, the teams reported collecting about 670 pounds of trash and recyclables.
Championing Diversity and Social Responsibility
In California’s Ventura County, just a short drive from Amgen’s headquarters in Thousand Oaks, cleanup teams gathered at two locations: Ventura Harbor Beach and Point Mugu State Park. At each location, participants received gloves, buckets, reusable bags and other gear for the cleanup efforts.
“We have a duty to give back to the community,” says Michael Robson, director, Occupational Health and Safety at Amgen. “I’ve enjoyed spending the morning clearing up trash, getting together, networking and meeting new people I haven't seen before.”
The coastal cleanup events also demonstrated the diversity of Amgen's staff around the world, with the Tampa event supported by the Amgen Latin Employee Network (ALEN), and the Southern California events supported by both ALEN and the Amgen Black Employees Network (ABEN).
“I’m glad to represent the Latin community, show our diversity and show our children how Amgen supports different causes,” says Eduardo Torres, director, Operations Strategy at Amgen, and member of the ALEN leadership team at the Ventura Harbor Beach event.