Five things the Oregon legislature can do to tackle plastic pollution in 2021

Nothing we use for a few minutes should pollute the environment and harm wildlife for hundreds of years. It’s time to move beyond single-use plastic by getting rid of the most harmful waste, and stopping the use of things we truly don’t need. Here are five bills that the Oregon legislature should consider in 2021 to move beyond plastics.

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Celeste Meiffren-Swango
State Director, Environment Oregon

Author: Celeste Meiffren-Swango

State Director, Environment Oregon

(503) 231-1986 ext. 318

On staff: 2006-2009; 2010 to present
B.A., magna cum laude, University of Arizona

As director of Environment Oregon, Celeste develops and runs campaigns to win real results for Oregon's environment. She has worked on issues ranging from preventing plastic pollution, stopping global warming, defending clean water, and protecting our beautiful places. Celeste's organizing has helped to reduce kids' exposure to lead in drinking water at childcare facilities in Oregon, encourage transportation electrification, ban single-use plastic grocery bags, defend our bedrock environmental laws and more. She is also the author of the children's book, Myrtle the Turtle, empowering kids to prevent plastic pollution. Celeste lives in Portland, Ore., with her husband and two daughters, where they frequently enjoy the bounty of Oregon's natural beauty.

Nothing we use for a few minutes should pollute the environment and harm wildlife for hundreds of years. Plastic pollution is creating an environmental disaster for ocean wildlife: plastic and other marine debris kills millions of sea turtles, seabirds and marine mammals every year. Plastic also contributes to climate change at every step of its lifecycle, from extraction and production to pollution. 

It’s time to move beyond single-use plastic by getting rid of the most harmful waste, and stopping the use of things we truly don’t need.

Here are five bills that the Oregon legislature should consider in 2021 to move beyond plastics:

  1. Producer responsibility and preventing plastic pollution. Making producers responsible for waste is an important step toward a circular economy, reducing waste and preventing litter. A proposed bill seeks to incentivize producers to reduce their use of packaging and build products that are less hazardous, built to last, and are easy to recycle or reuse by requiring that producers are responsible for all waste costs associated with their products, including waste collection, transportation and management, and litter clean-up costs. You can learn more about producer responsibility in our report, "Break the Waste Cycle."

  1. A comprehensive foodware policy. We need to shift away from single-use products and towards reusables rather than other types of single-use products. A proposed bill would require reusable foodware for most dine-in meals and eliminate harmful PFAS chemicals in foodware and utensils.

  1. A statewide ban on polystyrene takeout containers and cups. One of the most egregious single-use plastics is polystyrene, more commonly known as Styrofoam. A proposed bill would ban polystyrene takeout containers and cups across the state.

  1. Preventing the permitting of new or expanded "chemical recycling" facilities in Oregon. So-called "chemical recycling" is a false solution to our plastics problem, which exacerbates the climate crisis and distracts from real solutions like reducing plastic production and transitioning to a zero waste system. We support a bill to restrict the expansion of these facilities in Oregon. 

  2. Truth in labeling. For decades, the oil and gas industry intentionally made misleading claims about the recyclability of plastic products, putting the chasing arrows symbol on products they knew were not actually recyclable. We support a bill that would prohibit the sale of products in Oregon that make deceptive or misleading claims about recyclability.

In the coming weeks and months, be on the lookout for opportunities to make your voice heard on these and other important environmental issues. You can start right now by sending an email to your legislator asking them to tackle plastic pollution in 2021.

Thanks for all you do to help ensure a cleaner, greener future for Oregon.

Image by Hamsterfreund from Pixabay 
 

Celeste Meiffren-Swango
State Director, Environment Oregon

Author: Celeste Meiffren-Swango

State Director, Environment Oregon

(503) 231-1986 ext. 318

On staff: 2006-2009; 2010 to present
B.A., magna cum laude, University of Arizona

As director of Environment Oregon, Celeste develops and runs campaigns to win real results for Oregon's environment. She has worked on issues ranging from preventing plastic pollution, stopping global warming, defending clean water, and protecting our beautiful places. Celeste's organizing has helped to reduce kids' exposure to lead in drinking water at childcare facilities in Oregon, encourage transportation electrification, ban single-use plastic grocery bags, defend our bedrock environmental laws and more. She is also the author of the children's book, Myrtle the Turtle, empowering kids to prevent plastic pollution. Celeste lives in Portland, Ore., with her husband and two daughters, where they frequently enjoy the bounty of Oregon's natural beauty.