Sierra Club joined participants from approximately 26 other organizations in the second annual Capitol Hill Week of Action on Plastics on June 14th and 15th. Advocates met with Congressional members and staff to seek support for upcoming plastic-reduction legislation, including the Reducing Waste in National Parks Act, and efforts to strengthen the EPA’s draft plastic reduction strategy. We highlighted the health hazards and environmental justice concerns caused by plastic production, explaining that many plastic production facilities are located in predominantly Black, Brown and Native communities. Champions called for viable source reduction solutions such as investment in reusable packaging to replace single-use plastic.
The Action marked an important Congressional educational opportunity since a number of Congressional Members and their staff were not fully informed about the harmful effects of plastics or plastic-reduction solutions. We want to thank those members who have shown leadership by introducing or co-sponsoring legislation on plastics or initiating conversations and correspondence with Federal agencies regarding stricter regulations.
Grassroots Network activists from the Zero Waste team (Chris Powell) and the Single-Use Plastic Plus subteam (Susan Schorr), both from Washington, DC, joined lead organizers Break Free From Plastic and Oceana. Other key organizations included Greenpeace, Plastic Pollution Coalition, Surfrider, 5 Gyres, GAIA, Society of Native Nations, National Resource Defence Council and the Center for Biological Diversity. Participants broke up into 5 groups to meet with members from both parties in both chambers.
Below are highlights of current legislation or other actions on plastics:
- A dear colleague letter was circulated from Congressman Mike Quigley (D-ILL), which asked members to be original cosponsors to the Reducing Waste in National Parks Act. Several members signed on as cosponsors after our meetings. As a result, this important legislation was recently introduced in both the House and the Senate. These bills direct the National Park Service to establish a program for reducing disposable plastic products and, if applicable, eliminate the sale and distribution of disposable plastic products. Below are links to press releases from Senator Jeff Merkley’s (D-OR) and Rep. Mike Quigley’s offices.
- A dear colleague letter was circulated from Congressman Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which asked members to sign on to a letter asking the Agency to strengthen their Draft National Strategy for Reducing Plastic Pollution. The letter was subsequently sent with 66 signatures in both houses. About half of those signers were members we met with. Below is the link to the press release from Rep. Doggett’s office.