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DENVER -- As Congress debates additional relief funding in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, U.S. PIRG, the Break Free From Plastic movement and a coalition of NGOs and recyclers are urging federal lawmakers to address the plastic pollution crisis rather than exacerbate it with taxpayer money. In a letter sent to U.S. House and Senate leaders Friday, the groups expressed strong support for the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act (S.3263/H.R.5845) and maintaining local recycling programs, and opposition to an industry-backed proposal supporting the RECOVER Act (H.R.5115).
“Polluters should be responsible for the waste they create, not taxpayers. And we certainly shouldn’t ask taxpayers to pay for projects now that would ultimately create more plastic for centuries to come,” said Alex Truelove, U.S. PIRG Zero Waste Program director. “Any short-term federal funding Congress dedicates to waste infrastructure should go to supporting existing local recycling programs, not catering to the demands of corporate plastic producers.”
The RECOVER Act, as proposed by industry groups, would invest up to $1 billion in infrastructure over the next five years, including facilities that convert plastic to fossil fuels and produce harmful feedstocks. A collection of petrochemical manufacturers, consumer goods manufacturers and plastic industry trade groups endorsed this proposal last month.
On the other hand, the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act would reduce waste and help local recyclers in the long-term by making producers financially responsible for their discarded products. It also expands container deposit laws to fund recycling programs, while encouraging manufacturers to design more reusable packaging and safer products.
“The Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act holds producers responsible for their pollution, which in turn helps our local recycling programs across the country,” finished Truelove. “First and foremost, it employs proven policies to reduce plastic pollution. We hope Congress takes advantage of this opportunity to do the right thing.”
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