Big news my people.
Today, more than 90 members of the senate and house reintroduced a bill called the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act.
Whenever I read about this legislation Queen gets stuck in my head — not a complaint.
I literally love this bill, so let us count the ways. Here’s a simplified breakdown of what’s inside this bad boy:
There’s a law that would phase out single-use plastic products, including bags, utensils and styrofoam food containers. While several U.S. counties, cities, and states have initiated this kind of legislation, this would be the first national law of its kind.
Ted Danson is kind of a spokesperson.
Corporations, finally, would be held accountable for plastic pollution. They’d be responsible for taking care of their products’ end of life, meaning they’d have to stop pretending recycling is the fix and, instead, they’d have to invest real money into plastic alternatives and solutions. (The U.S. is one of the only OECD members NOT to have something like this.) Unfortunately, the specifics of how this would work are causing a lot of drama.
The bill would halt the production of new and expanding plastic facilities UNTIL corporations came up with a plan to protect us and the environment.
Businesses would be incentivized to make reusable and recyclable products (but not the greenwashed kind). I would love for it to be my job to scream “NO!!” every time a corporation tries to pull a fast one on us. Unsurprisingly, I am not over the Nature Valley debacle. Is it OK to be this mad?
Money! This bill proposes “generating massive investments in domestic recycling and composting infrastructure.” Like, instead of continuing to pretend that our recycling system works, the bill would allocate resources to figuring out one that’s actually effective. This is truly arousing to me.
Jobs! Research suggests that zero waste systems create over 200 times as many jobs as landfills and incinerators, yielding both the most environmental benefits and the most jobs of any waste management approach. (I personally want to open a zero-waste food store. Does anyone want to invest? Love u.)
A version of this bill was first proposed in 2020. It did not pass. Did you know that plastic bag lobbyists exist? And plastic lobbyists in general? Imagine dedicating your life to ensuring that the U.S. continued to poison the environment, human beings and animals for as long as possible. If I were to ever write a show or movie or book about a villain, I would make them a plastic bag lobbyist.
The bill is co-sponsored by many Democrats (our VP Kamala Harris signed on in 2020 when she was a little baby senator). So far no Republicans have signed on, if you can believe it.
Here is a sample of the opposition. The following quote is from Joshua Baca, vice president of American Chemistry Council’s plastics division:
“Plastic in the environment is never acceptable, but after a careful analysis of the legislation we have concluded it won’t end plastic waste but rather end the American plastics industry by restricting the production of modern and innovative plastic materials.”
Sir? I could write an analysis of the divine bullshit strewn throughout this meaningless statement. Instead, I will just note that Joshua Baca previously led public affairs for the American Beverage Association, which is basically a soda lobbyist group. Cuuute!
Fast Facts Dump:
FUCK: A garbage truck's worth of plastic ends up in the ocean every minute.
NASTY: The world produces more than 350 million tons of plastic each year, of which 91 percent is not recycled.
UNJUST: Plastic production isn’t just harmful to the environment. It disproportionately harms communities of color, low-income communities, and Indigenous communities by polluting the air, water, and soil.
CRUEL: The processes we currently have for disposing of plastic — landfill and incineration — are harmful to workers and marginalized communities (see above).
“Detroit’s Incinerator shut down in 2019, yet my community still suffers respiratory and heart problems caused by 33-years of burning trash and plastics near our homes,” said KT Andresky, Campaign Organizer at Breathe Free Detroit.
ALSO: Most of us are eating plastic every day. By some estimates, we ingest about 5 grams — the size of a credit card — every week. We don’t yet know all the possible consequences this could have on our health. Imagine pooping out a credit card though?
I don’t know whether the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act has a shot this year. Our country is fighting many, many fights, and we know plastic people are powerful and shameless (more on this another time).
You can write to your congresspeople and donate to the cause if you feel compelled. Some options:
Thanks for reading. Bye.
P.S. Some self-promotion (this is my blog?): I recently wrote this piece about how tofu conquered America during the pandemic and wanted to share.