New bill calls for U.S. to move beyond plastic

Media Contacts
Alex Truelove

Sen. Tom Udall & Rep. Alan Lowenthal introduce companion Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act of 2020 bills

U.S. PIRG and Environment America

WASHINGTON — As plastic pollution becomes an increasingly suffocating problem, elected officials in both houses of Congress are introducing legislation to address the issue. While unveiling the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act of 2020 on Capitol Hill today, Sen. Tom Udall (NM) and Rep. Alan Lowenthal (CA) detailed how the bill can improve the health of our people and our planet.

“If you want to stop a bathtub from overflowing, you have to first turn off the tap. Right now, our rivers and oceans are filled with plastic waste, and marine animals are suffering, if not dying, as a result,” said Steve Blackledge, the senior director of Environment America’s conservation campaign. “The Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act outlines the first comprehensive federal plan to turn off the ‘plastic pollution tap.’ We need this kind of groundbreaking legislation to put wildlife over waste.” 

The Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act builds upon statewide laws 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, and finance recycling/composting/reusable infrastructure. It would also save local and municipal governments billions of dollars per year by shifting the cost of managing waste and recyclables from local and municipal governments to the producers.

“The Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act solves the problem from multiple angles. It bans the worst single-use plastic, freezes the creation of new plastic factories, and requires  manufacturers to take charge of the waste their products create,” said Micheala Morris, Environment America’s oceans associate. “Whales are washing up on beaches with plastic knotted in their stomachs. Seals are choking on plastic waste. The suffering of these animals shows that we have to do something about the plastic filling our oceans. “

Wayward plastic litters not just our waterways, but also our forests, fields and roadsides. That’s not surprising when you consider that the United States disposes of or incinerates an estimated 32 million tons of plastic each year. Global plastic production is projected to more than triple by 2050, accounting for 20 percent of all global oil consumption.

“We’re inundated by plastic pollution, and yet we continue to make more each year, harming our planet and ourselves,” said Alex Truelove, zero waste program director with U.S. Public Interest Research Group. “Finally, we have a federal bill that offers real solutions, drawing from successful ordinances across the globe. This bill addresses our problem at the source, by reducing the amount of disposable plastic we use, and by encouraging a shift toward better and reusable materials. For our children to inherit a less-polluted Earth, that’s exactly what we need.”


More information about U.S.PIRG’s work to get Beyond Plastic

More information about Environment America’s Wildlife over Waste campaign