Lawmakers in the US have reintroduced legislation that aims to address plastic pollution.
First put forward last year, the Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act was brought back by Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Representative of California Alan Lowenthal.
The act keeps many of its original provisions, including a national extended producer responsibility (EPR) programme for packaging, minimum recycled content requirements for certain products and bans on single-use plastic.
The latest version of the bill features new elements such as a focus on refillable and returnable containers and environmental justice programmes.
The legislation builds on state laws across the country, including bottle bills and bans on single-use plastics.
Lowenthal said: “Plastic waste is a crisis that’s not simply a solid waste issue, but it’s intimately tied to climate change, to environmental justice and to international human rights.”
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More than 400 environmental advocacy groups have backed the bill, which also calls for the licensing of new plastic production facilities and chemical recycling plants to be suspended for three years.
Environment America oceans associate Michaela Morris said: “The Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act solves the problem [of plastic pollution] from multiple angles.
“It bans the worst single-use plastic, freezes the creation of new plastic factories and requires manufacturers to take charge of the waste their products create.”
US Public Interest Research Group zero waste programme director Alex Truelove said: “The Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act was conceived as an assemblage of ideas that work, based on successful policies across the globe.
“It addresses our problem at the source by reducing the amount of disposable plastic we use and encourages a shift towards better and reusable materials. For our children to inherit a less-polluted Earth, that’s exactly what we need.”
This month, Iceland’s Environment and Natural Resources Minister Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson called for a global agreement to tackle plastic pollution in oceans.