Biden-Harris Administration and EPA reveal national strategy to tackle plastic pollution

Biden-Harris Administration and EPA reveal national strategy to tackle plastic pollution

Sustainability

The Biden-Harris Administration has taken significant steps towards reducing plastic pollution in the US, as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) releases the draft "National Strategy to Prevent Plastic Pollution" for public comment. The draft strategy sets out ambitious actions to eliminate plastic and other waste from land-based sources into the environment by 2040, as part of the Administration's efforts to reduce pollution and promote a circular economy.

Coinciding with Earth Week last week, the EPA's draft strategy was released alongside the White House Interagency Policy Committee (IPC) on Plastic Pollution and a Circular Economy. The IPC will coordinate federal efforts to combat plastic pollution, with a focus on public health, economic development, environmental justice, and equity to ensure that the benefits of reducing plastic pollution are available to all.

The production of plastics and plastic waste has more than doubled in the last 20 years, resulting in significant pollution from the manufacture, transportation, and disposal of plastic products. The EPA's draft strategy sets out three key objectives, including reducing pollution during plastic production, improving post-use materials management, and preventing trash and micro/nanoplastics from entering waterways and removing escaped trash from the environment.

To achieve these objectives, the EPA's draft strategy identifies a range of actions, such as improving the design of plastic products to provide more reuse and refill opportunities, increasing solid waste collection, and reducing the production of single-use and unrecyclable plastic products. Additionally, the strategy aims to increase public awareness of ways to reduce plastic and other trash in waterways.

Close up of a plastic bag thrown on the ground Plastic waste credit Ivan Radic 22 BY 20
Close up of a plastic bag thrown on the ground Plastic waste © Ivan Radic (CC BY 2.0)
Plastic pollution negatively impacts our environment and public health with underserved and overburdened communities hit hardest, said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. As a global leader in the efforts to address these challenges and pave the way for the future, we must combat plastic pollution from every angle and prevent it at every step of the plastic lifecycle. As we take comment on EPA's draft national strategy, the agency will continue this work to protect people and the planet, ensuring the benefits reach our most vulnerable communities.

The EPA is inviting public comments on the draft strategy and has included specific questions in the report for feedback. The agency expects to finalise the strategy by the end of the year. Furthermore, the EPA is supporting the strengthening of requirements for environmental marketing claims, including higher thresholds for plastic products and packaging to be marketed as recyclable, as part of the Federal Trade Commission's request for comment on potential updates to its "Green Guides."

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