On February 12, 2020, four U.S. representatives and senators debuted a bill set to be introduced into the U.S. Congress and House of Representatives that would amend the current Solid Waste Disposal Act with the aim to restrict production and use of single-use plastics, enhance extended producer responsibility, and prevent consumer products and packaging from entering the environment and food chains. Titled the ‘Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act of 2020,’ it is an updated version of an earlier draft bill circulated for public comment in November 2019 by Tom Udall, a senator from the state of New Mexico (FPF reported).

Described in an article by news provider EcoWatch, the updated bill contains five “groundbreaking” components including: (i) manufacturers would be responsible for costs associated with designing and funding recycling systems, (ii) implementation of a nation-wide container refund system, (iii) phase-out of highly polluting single use plastic items including bags, polystyrene containers, and cutlery, (iv) requiring a step-wise increase of the minimum recycled content in products with a target of achieving 80% by 2040, and (v) largely prohibiting the export of waste abroad. “First and foremost, the Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act removes the burden of waste collection and recycling from the cities, from states, and, most importantly, from taxpayers, and puts it where it belongs: on the producers and the companies putting out these unsustainable products into the marketplace,” said Alan Lowenthal, co-author of the bill. The bill is expected to be heavily criticized by industry groups, with the American Chemistry Council (ACC) already commenting to voice their concerns.

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Olivia Rosane (February 12, 2020). “Groundbreaking Legislation Would Help U.S. ‘Break Free from Plastic’.” EcoWatch

E.A Crunden (February 11, 2020). “Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act debuts in Congress, instigating packaging EPR debate.” Waste Dive

E.A Crunden (February 10, 2020). “National EPR campaign kicks off with anti-plastic film screening, activist support.” Waste Dive

ACC (February 11, 2020). “Legislation Would Lead To Increased Environmental Impacts.”

Anne Marie Mohan (February 15, 2020). “Onerous Plastics Legislation Proposed.” Greener Package

E.A Crunden (February 12, 2020). “Tracking the future of US recycling policy in Congress.” Waste Dive

Anne Marie Mohan (April 15, 2020). “Plastics Legislation Proposed.” Greener Package