How we beat back plastic waste, took on toxic pollution and more in 2022

PIRG and our supporters were able to make major progress this year on some of our country’s most pressing challenges to the public interest.

Beyond plastic

Staff | TPIN
CoPIRG Executive Director Danny Katz rallies with supporters in front of the capitol to call for strong legislative action to curb plastic waste.

Some people might say that our deeply divided country is so broken that finding solutions to problems from plastic waste to pollution of our air and water is a fool’s errand.

Not us.

Powered by concerned, informed and active citizens like you, we keep proving the cynics wrong — by tackling concrete problems, finding practical solutions, bringing people together from all walks of life, and working until we get real results.

This past year, our staff and supporters won positive changes in the public interest. Here’s a sample of what we accomplished in 2022, thanks to your support.

We helped prevent more single-use plastics from trashing our open spaces and our lives

With 1 in 3 Americans now living in a state that’s banned at least one type of single-use plastic (thanks in large part to PIRG’s advocacy) it’s clear the effort to move our communities beyond plastic is making progress.

This year, people like you kept the momentum going by building support for plastic “producer responsibility” laws. Our national network helped win passage of two more state bills to put the burden of dealing with plastic waste back onto the companies ultimately responsible for flooding our lives with so much single-use plastic in the first place. And we’re looking to add more states to the list in 2023.

PIRG advocates also helped convince U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland to order the phase-out of single-use plastic products from national parks and other public lands by 2032. The support and action of people like you played a significant role in this win for a future where we don’t allow less plastic waste to spoil our country’s beautiful national parks.

We continued expanding and strengthening the call to let Americans fix their stuff

After our research partners gave Google a “D+” on the repairability of its smartphones, the tech giant announced that it will allow new user repair access for its Pixel line of smartphones. Though just a first step, the commitment means more Americans will be able to keep their electronic devices in use for longer, rather than being forced to throw out potentially fixable products, which adds to our waste and pollution problems.

Also this year, we made headway in the ongoing fight to allow farmers to repair their tractors how and where they need to, without having to make the often lengthy trip to the manufacturer. After our research partners helped expose how John Deere restricts access to resources that farmers need to conduct repairs, the company announced that it would improve farmers’ access to these resources.

Still, companies such as Google and Deere have made similar commitments before, with decidedly lackluster follow-through — so we’re not declaring victory until we win national legislation guaranteeing the Right to Repair for everyone who needs it.

We helped put the burden of toxic pollution clean-up back on the polluters themselves

As Congress geared up to pass historic investments for cleaner air, cleaner water and a healthier climate, PIRG advocates and supporters urged strong action to clean up America’s most dangerous toxic waste sites.

And we won: With the reinstatement of two of the crucial “polluter pays” taxes on companies that discharge toxic waste and are responsible for our country’s designated “Superfund” sites, funding to clean up these toxic threats will get a much-needed boost. The 1 in every 5 Americans who live near a Superfund waste site are closer than ever to being free of this toxic threat.

Supporters like you made these changes possible

We don’t take a penny from corporations to fund our work — we rely on citizen support, and evidence of the impact citizens like you can make is all around us. The solutions we advocate for, the ones we organize everyday people by the thousands to win, are so durable and effective precisely because they have broad public support behind them.

My team and I are excited to see what kind of positive change we can make in 2023 and beyond. We hope you are, too.

Thank you for being a part of this vital work. As 2022 comes to a close and we gear up to keep making progress for the public in the year ahead, will you donate to help ensure we have the resources we need to keep our campaigns to move beyond plastic, zero out toxic threats, and defend consumers going strong?

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Authors

Matt Casale

Director, Environment Campaigns, PIRG

Matt oversees PIRG's toxics, transportation and zero waste campaigns and leads PIRG’s climate program to promote a cleaner, healthier future for all Americans. Matt lives in Amherst, Massachusetts, with his wife, two daughters and chihuahua.

Nathan Proctor

Senior Director, Campaign for the Right to Repair, PIRG

Nathan leads U.S. PIRG’s Right to Repair campaign, working to pass legislation that will prevent companies from blocking consumers’ ability to fix their own electronics. Nathan lives in Arlington, Massachusetts, with his wife and two children.

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