Beyond Plastic

Oregon Reps. Blumenauer, Bonamici and Hoyle co-sponsor new bill to tackle plastic pollution

Oregon representatives among 40 lawmakers that introduced the Plastic Pellet Free Waters Act on Wednesday.

Reps. Mike Levin, Mary Peltola and 40 other lawmakers, including Oregon Reps. Blumenauer, Bonamici and Hoyle, introduced the Plastic Pellet Free Waters Act on Wednesday.

Plastic pellets, also called nurdles, are often dumped by manufacturers or spilled during transport because they are small (about the size of a lentil), cheap and easily contaminated. Once in our waterways, it’s easy for animals to mistake these tiny plastic pellets for food and if they eat enough of them, they can starve to death.

Clean water organizations and volunteers have documented pellet dumping and spills across the United states, including in Oregon, Texas, South Carolina and Pennsylvania. 

The Plastic Pellet-Free Waters Act would ban discharges of plastic pellets from facilities or sources that make, use, package or transport them. The Senate version, sponsored by Senator Jeff Merkley, was introduced in July 2023.

“Plastic pollution is everywhere. Plastic fragments and microplastics have been found in major waterways in Oregon and all along our coastline, which has devastating impacts on the wildlife that call them home,” said Celeste Meiffren-Swango, state director with Environment Oregon. “We should do everything we can to stop this pollution, but shockingly, some companies still dump and spill large quantities of plastic pellets into our waterways. That’s why Congress must pass the Plastic Pellet Free Waters Act.”

“Every day, we’re served tons of plastic cups, containers, bags and other products which become waste – but the problem starts long before that,” said Charlie Fisher state director with OSPIRG. “The plastic pellets, or nurdles, used to make these products are frequently dumped or spilled by companies in the production process, spreading harmful toxins. We need to put a stop to plastic dumping and prioritize our health and the environment over the momentary convenience of single-use plastics.”

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