Protecting Communities From Plastics Act
Despite huge international attention on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the plastics industry continues to increase the production of single-use products. If left unchecked, it threatens to undermine efforts to prevent climate catastrophe. A newly introduced bill helps to protect US citizens from the effects of the plastics industry and benefits us all.
Congressional Democrats have introduced the Protecting Communities from Plastics Act, a bill that aims to tackle the plastic overproduction crisis. It would address harmful environmental justice impacts, shift the economy from overreliance on single-use plastics, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The bill would require federal regulators to enact more stringent pollution standards for certain petrochemical plants and restrict more chemical additives and materials. It would also require studies of plastic polymers and additives’ health impacts and the creation of a grant program for scalable reuse programs. The bill would also establish minimum percentages of recyclable content in beverage containers and increase efforts to collect, recycle, and compost. It would also require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to write new pollution standards for plastic production and to transition to reusable packaging.
The Protecting Communities From Plastics Act would also create a pilot program to test the cost-effectiveness of technologies to prevent the release of microplastics, tiny plastic pieces harmful to humans and wildlife. The bill would also require stricter regulations on vinyl chloride and styrene, which have been linked to cancer.
The bill was developed by several organizations, including the Ocean Conservancy, which opposes the use of harmful products. It also worked closely with the bill’s authors.
But beyond the damage caused by waste plastic, Plastic production and the disposal of plastics disproportionately harms low-income communities and communities of colour. Plastic manufacturing facilities are one of the main sources of air pollution in Louisiana’s Cancer Alley. Under-regulated factories and recycling centres can damage ecosystems and contribute to climate change from their water and air emissions.
The Protecting Communities from Plastics Act would address these issues by implementing new national targets for plastic reuse and recycling and stricter rules for petrochemical plants. It would also require the EPA to write detailed new pollution standards for plastic production and to transition from single-use plastics. The bill would also require EPA to limit the use of chemical recycling technologies, which involve melting discarded plastic into fuel.
Several environmentalist groups, including Ocean Conservancy, Greenpeace USA, and the Backbone Campaign, have been working with legislators on the new bill. These groups argue that current chemical recycling technologies are an industrial shell game aimed at keeping single-use plastics in production. They say that developing a comprehensive strategy to phase out plastics is vital.
The Protecting Communities from Plastics act will ensure that the U.S. doesn’t rely on systems that are harmful to our communities. It would also make certain producers are fiscally responsible for collecting and recycling.
Senators Jeff Merkley introduced the Protecting Communities from Plastics bill (D-OR) and Cory Booker (D-NJ), as well as Representatives Alan Lowenthal (D-CA-47) and Jared Huffman (D-CA-2) and has been introduced as part of a larger package of plastic legislation. The Protecting Communities from Plastics Act is being endorsed by many groups, including the Backbone Campaign, Center for Biological Diversity, Surfrider Portland, and the Buckeye Environmental Network. It’s also being supported by Green America, which is encouraging people to support the bill.