U.S. PIRG joins organizations in letter supporting virgin plastic fee

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Alex Truelove

Legislation would place targets plastic used in single-use products


WASHINGTON — U.S. PIRG co-authored a letter, signed by 20 coalition partners, sent to the House of Representatives on Tuesday supporting a bill that would place a per-pound fee on virgin plastic used for single-use products. The bill, REDUCE Act of 2021, was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Tom Suozzi, following a companion bill introduced in the Senate by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse in August.

“Making new plastic is harmful, resource intensive, and frankly unnecessary given how much we waste. This legislation would take a long overdue step toward addressing our country’s obsession with wasteful products by taxing non-recycled plastics used in unnecessary single-use products,” said Juliana Clejan, U.S. PIRG Zero Waste campaign associate

New plastic, derived from heavily subsidized fossil fuels, remains cheaper to manufacture than recycled plastic. By increasing the cost of virgin plastic production produced domestically and imported, Congress would take action to make recycled plastic resin more likely to be used in everyday products. This comes as global plastic production is projected to more than triple by 2050, accounting for 20% of all global oil consumption.

After Sen. Whitehouse introduced the bill in the Senate, U.S. PIRG teamed up with World Wildlife Fund and Ocean Conservancy to produce a sign-on letter, and recruited like-minded organizations to sign on.

“We can’t solve our global climate crisis without addressing plastic. To achieve a truly circular economy, we have to get rid of what isn’t recyclable, by fixing the economic incentives that reward waste,” said Clejan. “I congratulate Sen. Whitehouse and Rep. Suozzi for proposing this commonsense legislation.”