The damage that their manufacture and combustion can do to the health of those who live nearby is one of the primary risks associated with plastics. For instance, one of the biggest sources of air pollution in Louisiana’s Cancer Alley is plastic manufacturing facilities.
The Protecting Communities from Plastics Act, which was just introduced, aims to solve this environmental justice issue.
U.S. Representative Jared Huffman (D-CA), who filed the bill, stated in a statement emailed to EcoWatch that plastic pollution is a huge environmental injustice that directly affects frontline and fenceline communities throughout the plastics lifecycle.
By reducing greenhouse gas emissions that are causing the climate crisis and the fossil fuel industry’s petro-dictatorship as it views plastics as a safety net, my bill will safeguard the health of our communities. The time is running out, and while we’ll continue to work on this Congress, we want to warn the oil and gas industry right away. Our neighborhoods must come first.
The legislative group behind the Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act, including Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Representative Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), launched the legislation on Thursday. The law would establish national targets for reducing the production of specific single-use plastics and promoting the use of reusable materials in food and other packaging, in addition to tightening health and environmental rules for plastics manufacturers.
The proponents of the measure also stressed how the manufacturing and consumption of plastics, which are expected to quadruple over the next 10 years, contribute to the climate catastrophe.
Fossil-based plastic manufacture poses a threat to our attempts to address the climate catastrophe as we switch to clean and renewable energy, Booker said in a statement emailed to EcoWatch. Residents of fenceline settlements that are close to plastic manufacturing facilities suffer from the emission of hazardous pollutants and an increase in the prevalence of life-threatening illnesses like cancer and heart disease.
I’m glad to have put forth this legislation, which will set national targets for plastic source reduction and halt the permitting of new and enlarged plastic facilities until the EPA changes regulations for plastic facilities, to address these environmental injustices.
According to E&E News, the measure would specifically request that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) target certain chemicals used in the manufacture of plastics, such as styrene and vinyl chloride, and look into their effects using the Toxic Substances Control Act.
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The law also calls for a moratorium on permits for new or enlarged plastics operations and a study into the health effects of plastic polymers, additives, and byproducts. Last but not least, it shifts away from chemical recycling as a remedy for the plastics challenge and requests that the EPA exclude such facilities from its National Recycling Strategy.
More than 30 different organizations have approved the legislation, including the Ocean Conservancy, which collaborated closely with the bill’s architects.
Dr. Anja Brandon, associate director of U.S. plastics policy at Ocean Conservancy, said in a statement emailed to EcoWatch that the Protecting Communities From Plastics Act is a crucial step toward addressing the extensive harms brought on by the petrochemical industry and ending our dependence on single-use plastics. It also takes the significant step of forbidding the EPA from including chemical recycling technology in the national recycling strategy, which would sustain our reliance on virgin plastic derived from fossil fuels. Instead, it places an emphasis on producing less plastic.
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Naturally, The Plastics sector Opposes the Law.
According to a statement made by Joshua Baca, the American Chemistry Council’s director of plastics work, switching to materials with a higher carbon footprint would result in the loss of American jobs, the risk of billions of dollars in investments in new technology, and a worsening of the climate crisis.
Republican senators and the industry’s opposition might be enough to kill the bill. Congress has been unable to advance the Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act, which includes comparable pauses on new plastics permitting and source reduction goals.