In response to the introduction of the Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act by Sen. Tom Udall, D-New Mexico, and Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-California, the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed — a network of more than 150 nonprofits located throughout Delaware, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania — prepared statement from Director Sandra Meola.

“We are thrilled to announce that Sen. Tom Udall and Rep. Alan Lowenthal have introduced the Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act, the first comprehensive bill in Congress to address the global plastic pollution crisis,” said Meola. “It’s become abundantly clear that we cannot recycle our way out of this crisis that impacts the Delaware River and every other waterway on our planet. The ‘recyclable’ materials in our blue bins are all too often landfilled, incinerated or shipped overseas to countries that are unable to manage the burden of additional trash.”

“Throughout New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New York, our rivers and creeks are clogged with plastics that prove fatal for fish, birds and other wildlife through entanglement, ingestion, and ecosystem damage,” said Meola. “Plastics also break down into smaller microplastics that contaminate our drinking water, food, and air; and we end up ingesting about a credit card size of plastic every week. Worldwide in the past 50 years, the use of plastic has increased twenty-fold, while more than seventy percent of it is either put in a landfill or lost to the world’s waterways and other infrastructure. Globally, over 300 million tons of plastic is produced each year, and with this volume ever-increasing, now is the time for swift action from our lawmakers to protect our waterways, our wildlife and our health.”

“Delaware River Watershed lawmakers have implemented policies preventing single-use plastics from entering our environment on a municipal and county-level in New Jersey and Pennsylvania; and banned plastic bags on the state-level in Delaware and New York,” said Meola. “Now it’s time for federal leadership to build on what’s been taking place across the United States. We urge Congress to move swiftly to support and pass the Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act, as there is no more time to spare to prevent and reduce plastics from entering our environment and impacting wildlife habitat and public health.”

The Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act will:

— Require producers of packaging, containers and food-service products to design, manage, and finance waste and recycling programs;

— Create a nation-wide beverage container refund deposit program;

— Ban certain single-use plastic products that are not recyclable;

— Ban single-use plastic carryout bags and place fee on the distribution of remaining carryout bags;

— Establish minimum recycled content requirements for beverage containers, packaging and food-service products;

— Spur investments in U.S. domestic recycling and composting infrastructure;

— Prohibit plastic waste from being shipped to developing countries;

— Protect state and local governments that enact more stringent standards; and

— Place a temporary pause on new plastic facilities until the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency updates and creates important regulations on those facilities.