Tell Congress to Break Free from Plastic Pollution

Submitted by bporter on July 7, 2021

This Plastic Free July, ask your elected officials to support the Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act!

Green America is proud to be one of over 400 advocacy groups supporting this ground-breaking legislation, introduced by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Representative Alan Lowenthal (D-CA).

This legislation tackles the serious social and environmental impacts of plastics from their production to disposal. The bill contains a suite of provisions that would: 

  • Force companies to take responsibility for their wasteful products, 
  • Strengthen regulations on plastic facilities to protect communities, 
  • Prohibit the use of toxic chemicals in covered products,
  • Push to increase reusables and refillables,
  • Improve recycling programs, and much more. 

Plastic production and incineration emit toxic air pollutants and millions of tons of greenhouse gases. Oil and gas industries want to ramp up plastic production in the coming decade to keep a demand in place for fossil fuels and line their pockets with more profits. 

More plastic production will fuel the climate crisis and increase pollution that severely threatens the health of fenceline communities, disproportionately impacting Black, Indigenous, and Latino communities.

The Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act seeks to tackle these problems by bringing many solutions that have helped curb waste at state and local levels to a national scale.

Contact Congress Now
 

What Would the Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act Do? 

Tackles pollution in environmental justice communities

The bill focuses on environmental justice communities that have been harmed and burdened by pollution from petrochemical plants and incinerators. It would place a three-year moratorium on permits for new petrochemical plants while the health and environmental impacts of existing facilities are investigated by the EPA, and regulations on facilities are developed or strengthened. The bill requires the EPA to conduct a comprehensive study on the public health impacts of incinerators and plastic chemical "recycling" facilities. The legislation would ban the export of plastic waste to developing nations that lack waste management infrastructure and prohibits an expanded list of toxic chemicals from being used in covered products.

Holds companies accountable for their waste

Extended producer responsibility (EPR) is a major facet of the Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act. The bill calls for a nationwide EPR program for certain items (including packaging) and requires companies to invest in domestic recycling and composting infrastructure, cover costs of clean-up, and promote measures to reduce waste.

Tasks federal agencies to develop solutions 

The bill would task relevant federal agencies to study effects of fishing gear polluting the environment as well as microfiber pollution and will require filtration standards for clothes washers to reduce microplastics. The EPA would be charged with developing standardized recycling and composting labels to prevent contamination. The bill tasks the EPA to establish funding for reuse and refill pilot projects to create more reusable packaging options.

Bans numerous non-recyclable plastic items 

Common single-use plastic products that pollute ecosystems, can’t be recycled, and have available alternatives will be reduced and phased out. The bill will reduce waste from items such as plastic bags, Styrofoam food and drinkware, plastic utensils, and more. The bill protects the ability of state and local governments to enact more stringent standards, requirements, and additional product bans.

Develops a nationwide container deposit system

Beverage containers of any material type could be returned to redeem a 10-cent deposit that is paid up front in the cost of the container. There are ten states with “bottle bills,” where customers redeem deposits at the point of purchase or at redemption centers. States with deposit programs such as Oregon report recycling rates of containers that surpass 80%, which is 16 times the national average.

Representative Lowenthal at the launch for the Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act
Representative Lowenthal introducing the Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act,
Feb. 11, 2020

How to Take Action 

Switchboard number: (202) 224-3121 

Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act – Senate Bill #984 and House Bill #2238

Script: Hello, I am a constituent of [Senator/Representative Name] and am calling to urge them to support and cosponsor the Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act [S.984 in the Senate/H.R. 2238 in the House]. I care greatly about the environment and the communities affected by plastic pollution and this bill works to reduce plastic waste and improve recovery of recyclable materials. This bill works to end the health threats of pollution from petrochemical plants on communities and tasks federal agencies to develop comprehensive plans to address plastic pollution in our waterways. This is a historic effort that will spur innovation and investments in the United States’ domestic recycling and composting infrastructure. Please support this bill for people and the planet!

Tell Congress: Break Free from Plastic Pollution

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