Washington, D.C. —
Speaking at a conference for advocates of reusable packaging systems, a key White House environmental policy aide said President Joe Biden's administration sees reusables playing a "major" role in cutting pollution from single-use plastics.
Jonathan Black, senior director of chemical safety and plastic pollution in the White House Council on Environmental Quality, told an April 21 conference in Washington that reusables can be job creators and reduce environmental damage from single-use materials.
"Reuse is a major part of the solution," said Black, speaking at a conference organized by Upstream and the World Wildlife Fund. "Reuse systems reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and water, and they generate local economic benefits by creating jobs and investing in local infrastructure."
"They are aligned with the priorities of this administration, and they position us to lead in implementing innovative solutions to the plastics crisis," Black told a roomful of several dozen representatives from companies, environmental groups and government agencies.
It wasn't immediately clear what policy initiatives could follow from Black's comments.
But they came on the same day that Biden announced a new governmentwide interagency policy committee on plastic pollution
and the circular economy, and as the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled a draft plastics strategy
that called for expanding reuse and refill options, among many priorities.
"We're here because in this administration and across the federal family, we are excited about reuse," said Black, who started in his newly created position in late 2022. "The federal government is grateful to be part of this community and strives to help advance reuse across the U.S.
"Single-use plastics, the overwhelming majority of which are made from fossil fuels, are one of the biggest contributors to plastics pollution," he said, noting that local actions are often doing the most to push reuse systems forward.
"Across the country small businesses and municipalities are driving reuse systems, designing and implementing community-based approaches that allow the public to move away from single-use products in everyday lives," Black said.
He said the conference was a chance to also look at the challenges facing the reuse movement.
"It's an opportunity to ensure that in pursuit of these solutions, we are not creating new problems and we are elevating disadvantaged communities," he said.
Two Biden administration agencies, the Department of the Interior
and the General Services Administration
, both announced moves last year to cut back single-use plastic purchasing.