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Suozzi’s REDUCE Act Will Promote Recycling and Stop Plastic Pollution that is Killing Wildlife, Polluting Oceans, and Destroying Ecosystems

September 28, 2021
Press Release
Bicameral Legislation co-lead by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse incentivizes the recycling of plastic; Elected Officials push to include in Reconciliation Package

Today, Congressman Tom Suozzi (D-Long Island, Queens) introduced bicameral legislation with Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) that would create a powerful new incentive to recycle plastic, and to help end the flood of plastic waste that is overwhelming vital ecosystems and threatening public health.

 

This new legislation led by Suozzi in the House and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) in the Senate would impose a 20-cent per pound fee on the sale of new, or “virgin”, plastic used for single-use products. The fee would incentivize the use of recycled plastics and would hold the plastic industry accountable for its harm to the climate, oceans, and minority and low-income communities.

 

“Plastic waste is destroying our environment. We must end the flood of non-recycled plastic waste,” said Suozzi. “We’ve all seen the turtles with a straw in its nose, the seabirds with stomachs full of plastic, and land-fills and ocean beaches overwhelmed with plastic waste. This bill with Senator Whitehouse is a commonsense way to create an economic incentive for businesses to use recycled plastic instead of creating more new plastic waste.” 

 

“We need to end the cascade of plastic pollution into our environment.  That pollution chokes our oceans, hastens climate change, and threatens Americans’ well-being,” said Whitehouse.  “The plastics industry should cover the cost of its damage.  That’s why I’m glad to partner with Congressman Suozzi to send a strong market signal to reduce plastic waste and boost recycled plastic.”

 

Since the 1950s, over 8 billion tons of plastics has been produced globally, yet even the wealthiest countries fail to recycle more than a tiny fraction of their plastic waste. In 2016, the United States accounted for 4 percent of the world’s population, but produced 17 percent of global plastic waste. Only 9 percent of plastic waste in the United States is sorted for recycling, and less than 3 percent is actually recycled.

 

That is why Suozzi and Whitehouse have proposed a fee on the production of virgin plastic so the market would be forced to undergo a stronger incentive to use recycled plastics. It would also ensure the plastics industry bears some of the burden for the environmental damage it causes. The top 100 virgin plastic producers accounted for 90 percent of the global single-use plastic waste. The REDUCE Act would:

 

Establish an excise tax on virgin plastic resin. Plastic resin is the base material that makes up plastics. Manufacturers, producers, and importers of virgin plastic resins would pay $0.10 per pound in 2022, increasing gradually up to $0.20 per pound in 2024. This fee would apply to virgin plastic used to make single-use products, including plastic packaging, beverage containers, bags, and food service products. Exported virgin plastic resin and post-consumer recycled resin would be exempt.

 

Provide rebates for certain products. Companies that use virgin plastic to make medical products, containers or packaging for medicines, personal hygiene products, and any packaging used for the shipment of hazardous materials would not have to pay the fee and could qualify for a full rebate for any fees paid on the plastic they use for such products. Virgin plastic used to make non-single-use products would also qualify for this rebate.

 

Establish a Plastic Waste Reduction Fund. The bill would direct revenue from the virgin plastic fee into a Plastic Waste Reduction Fund. Funds would be available to carry out plastic waste reduction and recycling activities, including making improvements to recycling infrastructure; to carry out marine debris reduction, detection, monitoring, and cleanup activities; and to address environmental justice and pollution impacts from the production of plastic.