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Udall unveils plastics legislation

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall was among four members of Congress introducing legislation that would phase out single-use plastic products and would overhaul the nation’s waste and recycling collection system.

Sen. Tom Udall

“The plastic pollution crisis is past the tipping point: Our communities, our waterways, and even our bodies are at risk,” Udall said of the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act of 2020. “We are already bearing the cleanup costs of mountains of plastic waste, and it will only get worse for future generations. The act would require corporations to take responsibility for their pollution, requiring producers of plastic products to design, manage and finance waste and recycling programs.”

It would provide incentives to corporations to make reusable products and items that can be recycled. It would create a nationwide beverage container refund program, which Udall, U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and U.S. Reps. Alan Lowenthal, D-Calif., and Katherine Clark, D-Mass., said is successful at the state level. It would reduce and ban certain single-use plastic products that are not recyclable.

The bill would also establish minimum recycled content requirements for beverage containers, packaging and food-service products, while standardizing recycling and composting labeling. The sponsors said the bill would spur investments in U.S. domestic recycling and composting infrastructure, while pressing pause on new plastic facilities until critical environment and health protections are put into place.

“Our solutions are not only possible; they are practical and are already being implemented in cities and states across the country, including in my home state of New Mexico,” Udall said. “But we need a comprehensive, national strategy to tackle this tidal wave of pollution before it is too late.”

Janis Searles Jones, CEO of Ocean Conservancy, called the bill a “comprehensive, ambitious piece of legislation.”

“The health of our ocean and the economies, communities and wildlife that depend on it are at stake,” Jones said.

U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland, D-N.M., is also a co-sponsor.

The Albuquerque City Council approved a plastic bag ban last year and considered banning other products. The proposed bans faced opposition from some local business owners, some of whom called it onerous.


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