End Plastic Pollution
Not all environmental legislation is created equal
October 29, 2020
For decades, environmentalists have been lobbying and publicly advocating for legislation that will help us curb our accelerating trajectory towards environmental degradation. So when bills for the environment are passed it’s a big victory, right?
Well, the answer to that question is more complicated than one may think. The reason: not all legislation is created equal.
The Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act 2020, The Save Our Seas Act 2.0 and the Plastic Pellet Free Waters Act are all bills that aim to curb plastic production and waste in the U.S. However, one of these bills is not like the other two. That is, one of these bills is inherently less proactive and cannot be considered a solution to plastic pollution.
Currently, billions of plastic pellets, or plastics that are less than 5 millimeters, flow through our waterways. Pollution from pellets and other plastics is estimated to cost over $13 billion of damage within marine ecosystems annually. The Plastic Pellet Free Waters Act forces major corporations to be liable for their plastic waste production.
According to Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.), this bill will “prohibit the discharge of plastic pellets or other pre-production plastic materials from facilities and sources that make, use, package, or transport those materials.”
The Save Our Seas Act 2.0 will have three main components including: fostering international agreement and research on our oceans’ plastic pollution crisis, researching the root causes of plastic pollution around the world and improving waste management with a large focus on recycling in the U.S.
The Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act 2020 will require major producers to be fiscally accountable for the plastics they produce. This legislation will place power back into the peoples’ hands in the form of nationwide bottle buy back programs. In addition, it will stop the shipping of plastic waste to developing nations and create incentive for investment into the United States’ composting and recycling systems.
So, while the Plastic Pellet Free Waters Act and the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act 2020 attack the plastic crisis at its root — producers — the Save Our Seas Act 2.0 falls short by focusing on recycling and research which will not solve our urgent plastic pollution crisis, but merely kick it down the road. If we postpone any effective course of action, oceans are predicted to contain more plastic than fish by 2050.
Passing the Save our Seas Act 2.0 and not the other bills is pointless and will only prolong our plastic use. To spark productive change, we must dissect environmental legislation and demand that local representatives support immediate and lasting action toward solving environmental issues now.
The first critical step to reducing plastic pollution starts with you. EARTHDAY.ORG’s End Plastic Pollution Campaign believes that plastic pollution is an issue that stems from the individual level all the way up to billion dollar corporations. Sign our pledge to end plastic pollution and calculate your plastic footprint with our plastic calculator.
We need to use our voices, hold polluters accountable and do everything we can to phase plastics out of our lives. Only then can we start to End Plastic Pollution.