Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) unveiled legislation Thursday that would crack down on plastics production and make strides towards shifting the country away from single-use materials.
The “Protecting Communities From Plastics Act” targets petrochemical and waste incineration facilities along with underscoring climate concerns, in an indicator of how polarizing the material has become.
In a statement, Booker argued that plastics production “threatens to derail our efforts to address the climate crisis” and poses a threat to low-income communities of color.
“In fenceline communities that are near plastic production plants, residents suffer from the release of harmful pollutants and increased rates of debilitating health conditions such as cancer and heart disease,” Booker said.
Huffman similarly said the bill “will protect the health of our communities, reduce greenhouse gas emissions fueling the climate crisis, and stop the fossil fuel industry’s petro-dictatorship as it eyes plastics as a safety net.”
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Contrary to the idealism of the campaigners, banning the federal government from using single-use plastic goods would not benefit the environment. In fact, life-cycle assessments on items such as single-use plastic bags have shown that there is a discrepancy between actual re-use rates of alternative bags and the re-use rate to break even on environmental grounds. Paper bags need to be re-used four times, LDPE bags five times, non-woven PP bags 14 times and cotton bags 173 times. Their actual re-use rates are about half that, making them less sustainable than single-use plastic bags, which may also be used by consumers as bin liners.
“Recycling is a complicated process and is not a sustainable solution to the skyrocketing amount of plastics being made.” … Plastic recycling is far less successful than recycling of other materials. Paper recycling rates are around 66% as of 2020. Glass recycling rates are just over 30%, and cardboard recycling dipped slightly in 2020 to 88.8%.”