We have known for years the harm that plastic pollution has on our environment. Single-use plastics litter our neighborhoods and waterways and wash up on our beaches. They are ingested by wildlife that mistake them for food; birds and turtles consume things like balloons and plastic bags and fish and shellfish eat microplastics, introducing them into the food chain. And they are causing our landfill—which is projected to reach capacity in fifteen years at our current rate—to fill up.
We cannot recycle our way out of this problem. Beach and neighborhood cleanups will not solve it. And trash skimmers and other types of debris interceptors will not fix the issue. Instead, we need to look upstream and address the problem at its source.
The General Assembly is considering five bills that, if passed, will reduce plastic pollution, increase recycling rates, and extend the life of the landfill:
- Plastic Waste Reduction Act (S0037/H5358) - prohibits the distribution of disposable plastic checkout bags.
- Disposable Food Service Containers (S0036/H5138) - prohibits the service of food and beverages in polystyrene foam containers.
- Beverage Container Deposit Recycling Act of 2021 (S0220/H5280) - creates a refundable 10-cent deposit on single-use bottles, cans, and other beverage containers.
- Single-Use Plastic Straws (S0155/H5131) - establishes an ‘ask first’ policy that prohibits the distribution of plastic straws unless a customer specifically requests one.
- Balloon Releases (S0038/H5376) - prohibits the intentional release of balloons filled with lighter-than-air gasses.
Collectively, these single-use products wreak havoc on our waste management and recycling systems, our environment, and our neighborhoods.
Tell your Representative and Senator to SUPPORT moving all five of these bills out of committee and on to votes by the full House and Senate.