A coalition of more than 550 community and conservation organizations today released its Presidential Plastics Action Plan, urging President-elect Joe Biden to take eight key executive actions to solve the plastic pollution crisis.
These include a moratorium on new plastic production facilities, using federal purchasing power to curb single-use plasticplasts, tightening up regulation of the petrochemical industry, ending fossil fuel subsidies, and protecting environmental justice communities from pollution.
The plan responds to the plastic industry’s aggressive expansion of facilities using the country’s oversupply of fracked gas to make throwaway plastic that fills our oceans, landfills, and landscapes. Petrochemical-plastic projects harm frontline communities with toxic air and water pollution and worsen the climate crisis.
“President-elect Biden can begin solving the plastic pollution crisis in his first days in office without any help from Congress,” said Julie Teel Simmonds, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. “Implementing this historic plan would protect vulnerable frontline communities and marine life while addressing a key driver of climate change. It’s time to rein in the fossil fuel industry’s insidious plans to keep fracking for plastic and polluting poor communities here and around the world.”
The Presidential Plastics Action Plan includes detailed steps Biden can take as part of eight priority actions:
Use the purchasing power of the federal government to eliminate single-use plastic items and replace them with reusable products;
Suspend and deny permits for new or expanded plastic production facilities, associated infrastructure projects, and exports;
Make corporate polluters pay and reject false solutions;
Advance environmental justice in petrochemical corridors;
Update existing federal regulations using the best available science and technology to curtail pollution from plastic facilities;
Stop subsidizing plastic producers;
Join international efforts to address the global plastic pollution crisis through new and strengthened multilateral agreements;
Reduce and mitigate the impacts of abandoned, discarded, and lost fishing gear.
Today’s plan builds on the momentum of the Break Free From Plastic movement and the bill by a similar name. The plan is endorsed by 551 groups, from national environmental organizations to small community groups fighting plastic pollution.
“Plastic production and pollution impact public health, the environment, and climate and it has reached crisis levels around the world, with the United States as one of the biggest contributors. It is for this reason that Senator Tom Udall, Senator Jeff Merkley, and I introduced the comprehensive Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act this year, and will reintroduce it next year,” stated Rep. Alan Lowenthal. “The Presidential Plastics Action Plan lays out how the incoming Biden Administration can lead on this plastic waste issue and enact real solutions like updating important regulations and greater cooperation with the international community. We are running out of time to deal with this crisis, but our bill and the Presidential Plastics Action Plan are important approaches to put us on the right track moving forward.”
The plan dispels the industry-promoted myth that most plastic can be recycled, citing federal figures that only about 8% of plastic consumed in the United States is recycled. Plastic pollution accumulating in the oceans is predicted to outweigh all the fish in the sea by 2050.
The plan calls for Biden to appoint a Plastic Pollution Czar to coordinate plastic reduction efforts across federal agencies and internationally. It also requests that he directs the Environmental Protection Agency to develop new ways to measure and reduce plastic pollution and to update and better enforce its decades-old regulations for petrochemical plants that make plastic, something many groups behind this plan also demanded of the EPA in a pair of legal petitions last year.
“Rejoining the international community means not only rejoining Paris, it means joining the global fight against plastics as a partner, not an obstruction,” said Carroll Muffett, president of the Center for International Environmental Law. “President-elect Biden should commit the United States to actively support a new global treaty on plastic pollution; use U.S. trade power to support real development, not plastic polluters; and move quickly to reverse U.S. subsidies and export policies that are accelerating the plastic crisis globally.”
Anti-plastic activists across the country also recorded segments for a new video urging Biden to adopt the plan and become the first #PlasticFreePresident. They also projected anti-plastic messages on significant buildings in Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. among other cities.
“Everyone in America, regardless of the color of their skin, where they live, or how wealthy their community is, should be able to take a breath or pour a glass of water without ingesting dangerous chemicals and microscopic plastics,” said Senator Merkley. “America was creative enough to invent a million uses for plastic, and now we have to use that creativity to clean up our act and design better alternatives.”
Azulita Project, Beyond Plastics, Break Free From Plastic, Center for Oceanic Awareness, Research and Education, Clean Air Council, Food and Water Watch, and Plastic Pollution Coalition are among the convening partners for the plan.For a full list of supporting organizations, Click Here.
Tell your members of Congress to protect oceans and marine life from plastic pollution by voting in favor of a first-of-its-kind recently introduced bill that would phase out certain single-use plastics and shift the burden of plastic waste to the companies producing it. Please sign in support of The Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act, HERE!
Sign this petition urging President Biden to be the leader we need in the fight to end the plastic pollution crisis, HERE!