Plastic Waste Reduction and Resources Act introduced to US congress

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Congresswoman Haley Stevens
Congresswoman Haley Stevens has introduced the Plastic Waste Reduction and Recycling Act to the US Congress

The bipartisan Plastic Waste and Resources Act that seeks to reduce plastic use and enhance research into plastic recycling has been submitted to the United States Congress.

Introduced by Representative Haley Stevens (Democrat), who is chairwoman of the House Science Subcommittee on Research and Technology and Representative Anthony Gonzalez (Republican), the legislation directs the establishment of a plastic waste reduction and recycling research and development programme.

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It also calls on the US Federal Government to develop a strategic plan for plastic waste reduction, and calls for the development of standards for plastics recycling technologies.

Congresswoman Stevens said: “We can no longer deny that we face a plastic waste crisis. In 2018, the US woke up to the fragile predicament of our plastic waste management system.

“No longer able to ship our plastic waste to international markets, US cities were forced to cut longstanding recycling programs. Instead, they had to resort to incinerating recyclables or tossing them in landfills.

“There are plenty of reasons for why and how we got here. However, a major factor is because we failed as a nation to invest in domestic recycling infrastructure and policies to account for the growing demand for plastic.

“As a result, today, the US recycles just 9% of its plastic waste. The Plastic Waste Reduction and Recycling Act will help develop a world-leading US industry in advanced plastics recycling technologies, and unleash the innovative potential of our nation to address our plastic waste crisis and generate greater value from the plastics we do produce.”

The Plastic Waste Reduction and Recycling Act:

  • Directs the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy to establish a “Plastic Waste Reduction and Recycling Program.” The purpose of the programme is to improve the global competitiveness of the United States plastics recycling industry, ensure US leadership in plastics waste reduction and recycling research, ensure US leadership in national and international standards development, and reduce any harmful effects of plastic waste on the environment.
  • Directs the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy to establish an interagency committee to coordinate the program and develop a strategic plan for plastic waste reduction and recycling and plastic waste remediation.
  • Directs the National Institute of Standards and Technologies to carry out research and provide the metrology basis for standards development for plastics recycling and related technologies, and to develop a clearinghouse to support dissemination of the tools, guidelines, and standards supported by the programme.
  • Directs the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to support research and other activities on advanced recycling technologies, plastic waste remediation, and the public health impacts of microplastics, among other topics.
  • Authorises funding for 5 years and invests $85 million in fiscal year 2021 for these activities. Authorizes a 6.5% increase over the previous year’s authorization for each of fiscal years 2022, 2023, 2024, and 2025.

The bill can be viewed in full here

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