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A Draft Bill Proposing A National Plastic Policy Could Be A Game Changer

An aggressive (in a good way) new bill proposing a national plastic policy was authored by Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico and Rep. Alan Lowenthal of California. 

If passed, the bill would push for extended producer responsibility (EPR), a strategy that holds producers responsible for the end of the life of their products. Plastics producers would be responsible for collecting and recycling materials.

The bill also includes a national beverage container deposit system, AKA a bottle bill. If passed, a 10-cent deposit would be added to all beverage containers, which would be refunded to customers when they return containers.

Beginning in January 2022, the most common single-use plastic products that pollute the environment will be banned including lightweight plastic carryout bags, food and drinkware from expanded polystyrene (AKA Styrofoam), cutlery, plates, straws, drink stirrers, and cotton buds. The legislation would also impose a fee on non-reusable carryout bags, which would fund recycling infrastructure and cleanup projects.

Sen. Udall and Rep. Lowenthal’s proposed bill calls for a moratorium on new plastics facilities, giving environmental agencies the opportunity to consider impacts on air, water, and climate. It would also update Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations to reduce plastic contamination in waterways and emissions standards as part of the Clean Air and Clean Water Act.

This policy is timely as there has been a push by beverage industry giants to capture more PET bottles through a new $100 million initiative. But, it’s unclear whether the bill will see any support from companies that have historically sought to undermine bottle bills. Supporters of the bill anticipate resistance from the American Chemistry Council and Plastics Industry Association, who have pushed back on banning certain plastics.

“Today we face a global plastic pollution crisis that threatens our waterways, wildlife, and public health,” Lowenthal said. “The amount of plastic waste in our communities and the oceans is evidence of the urgent need to tackle this issue, an effort in which the United States is currently lagging. The European Union, Canada, and even India and China are taking bold actions to address this growing crisis. There is currently no incentive in this country to reduce and reuse plastic, or for producers to use recycled plastics. That is why the legislation I am introducing with Senator Udall is so important. The financial burden of cleaning up pollution should not be borne by taxpayers alone. The manufactures and companies who sell the products must be held accountable for the end use of their products.”

This national plastic policy has the potential to be a game-changer as it would significantly reduce the amount of single-use plastic that is plaguing our planet. We encourage you to flex your civic muscles, review the draft, and submit comments following the process outlined below.

Comment Submission Process

  • Download the discussion draft here
  • Submit comments to and by the end of the business day on Thursday, November 21st.
  • Include your name and/or organization on page 1 of the document.
  • Save the document as your name and/or organization.
  • Comments or modifications to the original document will appear in red in “track changes” mode.


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