WASHINGTON – 25 March 2021 — The Center for Oceanic Awareness, Research, and Education (COARE) commends Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Representative Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) for their leadership and for reintroducing the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act to Congress today. The Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act 2021 builds on the previous version as well as Statewide laws across the country.
The legislation would reduce plastic production, increase recycling, and protect frontline and fenceline communities from the burden of toxic emissions from plastic waste by changing the incentives of the industry. The bill would shift the burden of cleanup to the corporations that produced the plastics so they have financial motivation to end the burning and dumping; strengthening environmental justice protections; eliminating waste export loopholes; and extending across the nation existing laws that have been proven to work on the state and local level, among other steps.
The comprehensive legislation to address plastic pollution and rising U.S. plastic production was also endorsed Sunday by HBO's "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver", which did a 22-minute segment on the plastic pollution crisis.
"Many of us were taught the three R's—reduce, reuse, and recycle—and figured that as long as we got our plastic items into those blue bins, we could keep our plastic use in check and protect our planet", said Merkley, who serves as the Chair of the Environment and Public Works subcommittee overseeing environmental justice and chemical safety, which has jurisdiction over the Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act. "But the reality has become much more like the three B's—plastic is buried, burned, or borne out to sea."
"For decades we have treated our land, waterways, and oceans as dumping grounds for our plastic waste. Today, we are reaping what we have sown and now face a global plastic pollution crisis", Congressman Lowenthal said. "We are on a precipice and we are running out of time to deal with this crisis of our own creation before it reaches a point of no return."
Globally, the plastics industry already produces more than 335 million tons of plastic each year, and this volume continues to increase. Left unchecked, global plastic production is projected to triple by 2050.
As a part of the Break Free From Plastic movement, COARE has worked to create and support smart legislation. Through its "Enough with the plastic already!" campaign, COARE seeks to reduce the amount of oceanbound waste by helping people become more aware of how their habits affect the world around them. COARE raises public awareness of some very commonly overlooked sources of trash, and encourages people everywhere to examine their choices.
"Every day, the over abundance of plastic litters our streets, pollutes our streams, and poisons our oceans," said Christopher Chin, COARE's Executive Director. "It is literally everywhere: in the air that we breath, the water we drink, and in the food we eat. We cannot recycle our way out of this problem, and the time for false solutions and rhetoric is over. We are encouraged by the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act, which endeavors to engage Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), to shift the onus of this problem from its victims back to its creators."
About COARE The Center for Oceanic Awareness, Research, and Education, Inc. (COARE) is a tax-exempt nonprofit organization based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Its purpose is to study our oceans and increase public awareness of the earth's marine environment through educational programs and outreach. COARE seeks to enlighten people, young and old, to the plight of the oceans, to change the way they think and act, and to encourage them to create positive and lasting change. For more information about COARE, visit https://www.coare.org.
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