In response to a legal petition from community and conservation groups, US government says it will evaluate ways to reduce its purchases of single-use plastic; GSA says single-use plastics are significant contributor to global plastic pollution

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WASHINGTON , July 7, 2022 (press release) –

In response to a legal petition from the Center for Biological Diversity and 180 other community and conservation groups, the U.S. government announced today that it will evaluate ways to reduce its purchases of unnecessary single-use plastic.

“I hope this incredibly promising development marks the start of a federal commitment to strike at the root of the plastic pollution crisis,” said Emily Jeffers, the Center attorney who authored the petition. “The Biden administration has a real opportunity to stem the toxic tide of single-use plastic that’s pouring into our oceans, killing our wildlife, and contaminating our bodies. To protect human health and our environment, the federal government needs to lead the way in radically reducing plastic use.”

In today’s announcement the General Services Administration noted that because single-use plastics are “a significant contributor to the global plastic pollution concern, it is a logical step for the agency to examine” its role in reducing single-use plastics.

The groups’ February legal petition called on the GSA, the federal procurement arm, to address the plastic pollution crises by prohibiting agencies from buying disposable, single-use plastics. The U.S. government is the world’s single-largest consumer of goods and services. President Biden’s recent executive orders have highlighted the need for federal agencies to prioritize purchases of reusable products.

Today’s advance notice of proposed rulemaking seeks public feedback on the use of single-use plastic for which the agency contracts. That feedback will inform future rulemaking to establish requirements and reporting mechanisms for reducing unnecessary single-use plastic.

Plastic production fuels the climate crisis and damages local communities with toxic air and water pollution. Once discarded, plastic clogs rivers and oceans, harms wildlife, infiltrates drinking water, and persists in the environment for centuries.

Plastic also threatens human health. As people consume more and more food and drinks from single-use plastic wrappers and containers, they’re exposed to chemicals linked to many of today’s worst health crises, including obesity, ADD/ADHD, and many forms of cancer.

Using federal purchasing power to curb single-use plastics is one action in the Presidential Plastics Action Plan, a road map endorsed by more than 550 organizations. The plan urges the Biden administration to take eight key executive actions to solve the plastic pollution crisis. Other recommended actions include a moratorium on new plastic production facilities, tightening up petrochemical industry regulations, ending fossil fuel subsidies, and protecting environmental justice communities from pollution.

Contact:

Emily Jeffers, (408) 348-6958, ejeffers@biologicaldiversity.org

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