Before jumping into the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act, let’s first dive into why plastics are harmful to people and the climate
- Every year, approximately 380 million tons of plastic is produced—which is roughly the mass of two-thirds of the world’s population.
- Plastics are made from burning non-renewable fossil fuels, like natural gas and petroleum, which is a leading contributor of climate change.
- Over 90% of plastic products are made by extracting virgin fossil fuels and plastic production is a growing crisis—estimating a 40% plastic production increase over the next decade.
- The production of plastic poses a threat to the health and wellbeing of communities located near petrochemical plants and oil & gas refineries. These fence line communities are disproportionally low-income and communities of color, which is environmental racism. To learn more, watch the Peak Plastic Foundation’s film, Breathe This Air.
- Greenhouse gases are also emitted at every stage of the plastic lifecycle—from extracting the fossil fuels, to the manufacturing process, to the emissions released long after you throw plastic products away. When plastic decomposes in landfills or the ocean, it continues to release methane—one of the most potent greenhouse gases!
Plastics impact on people and the ocean
- An estimated 11 million tons of plastic washes into the ocean each year, which equates to nearly two garbage trucks of plastic being dumped into the ocean every minute.
- Plastic in the ocean negatively impacts marine environments and decreases biodiversity: Over 1,200 species are endangered from ocean plastic ingestion or entanglement; and with fewer aquatic species, entire ecosystems are threatened.
- Plastics in the ocean drive climate change: When plastics break down in the ocean, methane and ethylene are released—which are two of the most powerful greenhouse gases.
- Plastics impact the food chain and human health. When marine organisms ingest plastic, they consume all of the toxins along with it. These toxins then bioaccumulate throughout the food chain, and eventually make it onto your plate. Even 94.4% of tap water in the United States has also been shown to contain microplastics. Toxins in plastic have been linked to carcinogenesis, inflammation, tissue damage, fibrosis, and more.
So, what is the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act and how will it help address these social and environmental issues?
The Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act is a proposed U.S bill that will set the gold standard of federal legislation to make meaningful reductions in U.S. plastic pollution.
The Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act is a highly comprehensive bill that addresses many sources of plastic pollution (find the full bill here). For a deeper dive, check out the #BreakFreeFromPlastic Virtual Rally that Oceanic Global co-hosted with Oceana!
Key points from the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act—
1. Shifts the burden of plastic cleanup responsibility to the big corporations that produced the waste by requiring them to design, manage, and finance waste and recycling programs.
2. Incentivizes corporations to explore innovative, reusable products, that can be recycled at end-of-use.
3. Creates a nationwide bottle deposit-refund system, and establishes a minimum recycled content requirement for new beverage containers and food packaging.
4. Makes big investments in U.S. domestic recycling and composting infrastructure, and prohibits plastic waste from being shipped to developing countries.
5. Creates regulations on plastic production facilities to protect frontline and fenceline communities from direct and cumulative impacts on public health.
6. Mandates filters on washing machines to prevent microfiber pollution.
Pretty great, huh?
How you can help support the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act:
- Help this proposed legislation gain momentum by emailing and calling your members of Congress, urging them to co-sponsor the bill!
- To easily find your members of Congress, visit www.house.gov and www.senate.gov!
- Easily send an email to your members of Congress here! Takes less than 2 minutes, promise.
- For restaurants and food industry executives, sign this Letter of Support drafted by our friends at Just Salad!
- Share these infographics below on social media to spread awareness about plastic pollution and the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act!