REGISTER: Plastic Waste is Getting Really Bad ... & Unhealthy
So, what can state legislatures do about it? A discussion on reducing plastic waste, eliminating toxins and protecting public health
Plastic Pollution is Killing Us …
The health and environmental impacts of plastics are a global crisis. Scientific evidence shows that we have broken through the “planetary boundaries” for chemical and plastics pollution, meaning that production and emissions may be threatening the stability of the entire global ecosystem.
To best understand what plastics pollution is, one must understand what plastic is: a material made from carbon (fossil fuels) and chemicals. Plastics do not exist without chemicals, and harmful chemicals are released at every phase of the plastics life cycle – from oil extraction to plastics production, transport, use, and disposal.
Over 10,000 chemicals in plastics have been identified, and data on more than 2,400 of these chemicals has identified them as substances of concern (there is incomplete or no hazard data on hundreds of other plastic chemicals). Toxic chemicals in plastics have been linked to cancers, damage to the immune and reproductive systems, impaired intellectual functions, developmental delays, and other serious health conditions. Evidence suggests that we are already seeing serious health problems from chemical exposures throughout the plastics lifecycle.
Learn more about how bad it is in this report.
But, States Could Step In …
State legislatures across the United States are considering bills that promote extended producer responsibility (EPR) for packaging. The essential function of those bills is to shift the cost of packaging disposal from consumers to the companies that produce the products. It is a policy that signals major changes in the waste system and an economy-wide transition, particularly as nearly every piece of packaging in stores would be covered under EPR.
According to former EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck, director of Beyond Plastics, EPR has the potential to be an effective policy tool for preventing plastic pollution, improving recycling, decreasing toxic additives, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions … that’s if the legislation includes specific requirements. Ineffective EPR bills will delay action on plastic reduction for years, Enck warns.
Please join us for a conversation with Enck and Kirstie Pecci, executive director of Just Zero, on their EPR legislative proposal designed to move packaging away from single-use plastics -- the most common source of pollution and a major contributor to climate change -- toward reusable, refillable, and truly recyclable packaging, while funding recycling in municipalities.
The session will be moderated by Massachusetts state Senator Marc Pacheco, and include remarks from: Dr. Philip Landrigan, who directs the Program for Global Public Health and the Common Good at Boston College, and whose research examines the health impacts of toxic environmental hazards; and Dr. Adrienne Hollis, an environmental attorney and environmental toxicologist, who is vice president of Environmental Justice, Climate and Community Revitalization at the National Wildlife Federation.