Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act - March 2021

Introduced in 2020, sponsors Rep. Lowenthal and Sen. Merkley re-introduced federal legislation in March 2021 - the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act - that would create nationwide extended producer responsibility (EPR) for packaging, minimum-recycled-content mandates for certain products, a national container deposit, single-use plastic product bans, and a three-year pause on new virgin plastics production facilities. Multiple organizations held online kick-off/rallies in support of the legislation.

Sen. Merkley said "we can not only save ourselves from all the harm that’s caused by plastic pollution, but we can also create good-paying American jobs by spurring massive investments in domestic recycling and composting infrastructure." The American Chemistry Council (ACC), which promotes chemical recycling technologies, called the proposal a “misguided and harmful piece of legislation."

John Oliver's HBO show Last Week Tonight had a segment on plastic, producer responsibility, and the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act where he said that "real behavior change has to come from plastics manufacturers themselves - without that, nothing significant is going to happen." In about 20 minutes of humor and colorful language Oliver manages to paint an accurate portrait of the history of and problems with plastics and packaging, including clips with David Allaway of Oregon and Roland Geyer of California. The Guardian covered the HBO show. Read the Product Stewardship Institute's (PSI) news release on the Act.