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For the first time, Democrats in Congress introduced comprehensive legislation to deal with the plastic crisis. As we wrote in February, Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.) and Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) introduced the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act, which after months of build-up will kick off what is likely to be a heated fight over the legislation. The bill would shift the onus of managing plastic waste to producers of plastic bottles, packaging and assorted items, along with creating a national container deposit system.
In addition, scientific breakthroughs that could be game-changers when it comes to plastic pollution, also started to emerge. For example, we reported in April that researchers at Carbios, a French company, report in the Journal Nature that they’ve “engineered an enzyme that can convert 90% of that same plastic back to its pristine starting materials” and they are working to open a demonstration plant next year. The enzyme breaks down plastic all the way into a recyclable form — the company, in collaboration with Pepsi and L’Oréal, hopes to have market scale production within 5 years. And in September, according to a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers have engineered a new “super enzyme” that breaks down recycled plastic 6-times faster than previously possible.
Finally, companies began to take greater responsibility for finding solutions to plastic waste. In August, we reported on the launch of the U.S. Plastics Pact, a collaborative led by The Recycling Partnership and World Wildlife Fund (WWF), as part of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s global Plastics Pact network. The pact is an initiative to unify diverse public-private stakeholders across the plastics value chain to rethink how plastic is designed, used, and reused, in an effort to create a circular economy for the material in the United States.
With the Trump administration rolling back environmental protections and exacerbating environmental inequalities, the burden had landed on states to take up measures to protect minority and poor communities.
Why This Matters: Environmental Justice (EJ) was still not well known in 2019 when Senators Cory Booker, Tammy Duckworth, and Tom Carper created the first EJ Caucus in the Senate in 2019. And as with climate, state governments are leading the way.
The Trump Administration wreaked havoc on the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental forum that brings together eight nations and six Arctic Indigenous organizations to discuss issues impacting the melting top of the globe.
We have no time to waste when it comes to getting this virus under control and building our economy back better. Tune in as I announce my American Rescue Plan. https://t.co/4YAg0nhJMn — Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) January 15, 2021 Yesterday, President-elect Joe Biden announced his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan which he described as “a two-step […]
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