Beyond Plastic

Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act reintroduced in Congress

Sen. Jeff Merkley (OR) and Rep. Jared Huffman (CA) reintroduced the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act of 2023 on Wednesday.

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Look around your kitchen, walk around your favorite park or beach and you’ll likely find yourself in the presence of plastic. Plastic is everywhere and in everything. It’s used as packaging, it’s in food service products, and it’s in clothing. All told, Americans generate over 35 million tons of plastic waste every year, 91% of which is landfilled or incinerated. In fact, the U.S. throws out enough plastic every 15.5 hours to fill the Dallas Cowboys stadium, and that amount is increasing.

Our addiction to plastic is a growing problem, responsible for country-sized swirling gyres of plastic waste in our oceans and growing landfills across America. This pollution is damaging our ecosystems and endangering public health. 

As plastic pollution becomes an increasingly dire problem, Sen. Jeff Merkley (OR) and Rep. Jared Huffman (CA) reintroduced the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act of 2023 on Wednesday– a bill that would improve the health of our people and our planet.

The Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act builds upon state laws being passed across the country, from bottle bills to bans on the worst single-use plastics. If the act becomes law, it would continue to reduce single-use plastic and packaging nationally, finance recycling, composting and reusable infrastructure and more explicitly prohibit the dumping of plastic pellets in our nation’s waterways. It would also save local and municipal governments billions of dollars per year by shifting the cost of managing waste and recyclables to the plastic producers.

“We’re inundated by plastic waste, yet more plastic is made each year, harming our planet, health and well-being,” said Janet Domenitz, executive director of MASSPIRG. “The Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act is based on successful plastic pollution reduction policies in states and across the globe. The bill addresses our problem at the source by reducing the amount of disposable plastic we use, and encouraging a shift toward better and reusable materials. For our children to inherit a less-polluted Earth, that’s exactly what we need.”

“Our addiction to plastic is responsible for country-sized, swirling gyres of plastic waste in our oceans and growing landfills across the world. It’s harming wildlife and finding its way into our water, our air, our food and our bodies,” said Environment America’s zero waste program director and state director of Environment Oregon Celeste Meiffren-Swango. “We are happy to see Senator Merkley bringing back the Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act this year. This ambitious bill outlines a comprehensive solution for this growing environmental problem, and would help us build a future where we put our planet and public health over convenient packaging.”

Read more about the Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act here.

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