sustainability

The average American ingests a credit card’s amount of plastic every week

And what we can do to stop our plastic problem

By JILL PADUA
Posted 4/14/21

Plastic pollution is a global crisis that threatens our public health, our climate, our economy and our planet. Plastic production and waste are fueling climate change and poisoning our bodies …

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sustainability

The average American ingests a credit card’s amount of plastic every week

And what we can do to stop our plastic problem

Posted

Plastic pollution is a global crisis that threatens our public health, our climate, our economy and our planet. Plastic production and waste are fueling climate change and poisoning our bodies through the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. Unless we act, things are only going to get worse. The Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act (H.R.2238) was introduced to Congress on March 26 by U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and U.S. Representative Alan Lowenthal (D-CA); it is the national strategy we need to address this growing crisis.

If you aren’t convinced of the problem, read on:

  • Studies suggest that humans swallow a credit card’s worth of plastic every week. Exposure to plastic toxins has been linked to cancers, birth defects and other ailments.
  • The U.S disposes or incinerates 32 million tons of plastic waste each year, burdening our local government budgets and overwhelming systems to handle it.
  • Our recycling system is broken: Only eight percent of plastic waste in the U.S. is sorted for recycling, and less than three percent of plastic waste is recycled into a similar product.
  • Global plastic production will triple by 2050, accounting for 20 percent of global oil consumption, and emissions linked to plastic will reach 1.3 billion tons by 2030, equal to 300 coal-fired power plants.
  • Emissions from plastic production and waste management facilities are disproportionately impacting low-income and

    minority communities, perpetuating the harm of historic environmental injustices.
  • Americans are fed up with the plastic pollution crisis and broadly support many steps to tackle the plastic pollution crisis. Recent polling shows that two-thirds of Americans believe that businesses that produce or use plastics in their products should pay for collecting, sorting, and recycling plastics.

The Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act will provide national leadership to reduce the amount of wasteful plastic produced and reforming our broken waste and recycling systems. The bill will shift the burden of cleanup and waste management to where it belongs—on the corporations that produce this waste—by doing the following:

  • Requiring big corporations to take responsibility for their pollution.
  • Requiring producers of plastic products to design, manage, and finance waste and recycling programs.
  • Spurring innovation, incentivizing big corporations to make reusable products and items that can actually be recycled.
  • Creating a nationwide beverage container refund program, which is successful at the state level.
  • Reducing and banning certain single-use plastic products that are not recyclable.
  • Establishing minimum recycled content requirements for beverage containers, packaging and food-service products.
  • Generating massive investments in domestic recycling and composting infrastructure, while pressing pause on new plastic facilities until critical environment and health protections are put in place.

Together we can tackle plastic pollution
with this bold action, but we must act now, before it’s too late.

This bill is co-sponsored by 10 senators, including Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY), 79 members of Congress, including Rep. Antonio Delgado, and is endorsed by more than 500 groups.

To learn more the problems with plastic, The Sullivan Waste Reduction Alliance and Cornell Cooperative Extension will be presenting a screening of “The Story of Plastic” from Sunday to Saturday, April 18 to 24.

To receive an invitation to view this film and/or participate in the webinar, email jillepadua@gmail.com. The invitation for the screening will come from EventBrite.

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