Technological watch

Industry Leaders Push Back On Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act

Act Would Harm the Environment, U.S. Manufacturing, America

WASHINGTON (March 23, 2021) – Business and academic leaders today outlined how the soon-to-be-introduced Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act would stall efforts to address plastic waste in the environment and limit the essential role plastic plays in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The legislation includes damaging provisions that would restrict the production of modern and innovative plastic materials and limit advanced recycling technologies needed to recover plastic waste and revolutionize how we use – and reuse – our plastic resources.

Representatives and experts from several key American industries and academia highlighted the bill’s potential for widespread disruption of supply chains, daily business operations and the global response to COVID-19. Restricting plastic production would impact a wide array of industries and force U.S. businesses to search for less effective, less sustainable and more expensive alternatives, which may not exist.

“Plastics are an indispensable part of economic growth and vital to a low-carbon future,” said Jim Fitterling, chairman and CEO of Dow, Inc. “Our focus as an industry and as a society should be continuing to deliver products and solutions that enable a more circular economy, strengthening our nation's supply chains, and reinforcing our critical manufacturing capacity."

Plastic is a crucial material for many modern innovations that benefit people's health and well-being, conserve natural resources and reduce our impact on the environment, such as electric vehicles, batteries, wind turbines, solar cells, solar panels and food packaging among others.

“Studies show that alternatives to plastic in packaging and products typically produce significantly more greenhouse gas emissions – on average twice the greenhouse gas emissions – throughout their production and use,” said Dr. Ron Cotterman, vice president of innovation and sustainability at Sealed Air. “We are leaning into innovation to develop plastic packaging that reduces overall environmental impact, protects perishable foods and other goods, and is made with materials that can be recycled in a circular loop.”

“Leadership should announce this bill as dead on arrival. During one of the gravest crises our nation has faced in years, this bill would threaten lives by interrupting the manufacture of critical, life-saving materials; suffocate economic growth; and threaten our environment and any hope of making progress in the fight against climate change,” said Chris Jahn, president and CEO of the American Chemistry Council. “We stand ready to work with Congress on bipartisan solutions to end waste, but they must be pragmatic. Our efforts are focused on redesigning packaging, modernizing recycling, using advanced technologies to capture and reuse plastic, and closing the loop to keep plastics where they belong – out of the environment and used as resources to make new materials,” he added.

America’s Plastic Makers have already set an aggressive goal for all plastic packaging used in the U.S. to be reused, recycled or recovered by 2040. In just the past three years, 66 projects worth more than $5.5 billion in advanced recycling investments have been announced in the U.S. alone.

“These innovative technologies are evolving the concept of traditional recycling and creating circular pathways for waste plastics, turning them back into the same plastics, intermediate products or low carbon fuels,” said Bill Cooper, senior vice president of business development at Agilyx. “Advanced recycling will play a critical part in increasing the global recycling rate of plastic packaging to 50% by 2040.” 

“Our company is nearing completion of a $260 million plastics renewal facility in Ashley, Indiana, with plans to create larger facilities here in the U.S.,” said, Bob Powell, CEO of Brightmark. “By limiting advanced recycling technologies, this legislation will hinder our progress and eliminate what may be the most effective tool at our collective disposal to recover plastic waste and produce new resources.”

“Advanced recycling technology offers important benefits for our economy and the environment,” said Dr. Marco Castaldi, professor of chemical engineering, City College of New York. “Using advanced recycling will keep useful resources out of landfills and reduce the need to extract virgin resources.  This bill would put the U.S. at a competitive disadvantage and grant other countries an edge.”

Publication date: 23/03/2021

American Plastics Council

This project has been co-funded with the support of the LIFE financial instrument of the European Union [LIFE17 ENV/ES/000438] Life programme

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Last update: 2022-01-31