U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-New Mexico, and U.S. Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-California, have drafted legislation that is aimed at reducing plastic waste that they hope would go into effect this fall.
According to a press release about the proposed legislation on Udall’s website, the proposal “includes a mix of phase-outs of certain single-use consumer products, an extended producer responsibility (EPR) for those and other products and deposit or charge requirements at the consumer retail level.”
Some components of the proposed legislation include:
• Obligations for producers: Producers would be required to design, manage and finance programs for end-of-life management of their products and packaging as a condition of sale. These programs may or may not use existing collection and processing infrastructure. Programs should cover all products in a given category. Producers would also help cover costs of waste management and clean up.
• Nationwide container deposit requirements: Place a national deposit requirement on beverage containers (all materials, including glass, plastic and aluminum) to be added at the retail level and returned to consumers for returning containers. Nonrefunded monies would go into the federal fund to assist with collection infrastructure. This also would require major beverage retailers to install and operate reverse vending systems to promote collection of containers.
• Carryout bag fee: A fee would be placed on the distribution of available carryout bags. That fee would be deposited into a federal fund.
• Plastic ban of certain products: Where alternatives are readily available and affordable, the most commonly polluted single-use plastic products would be banned from the market in the near future. The ban would apply to lightweight plastic carryout bags, cups and lids, cotton buds, cutlery, plates, straws, snack packaging and drink stirrers, which will all have to be made exclusively from reusable or more sustainable materials instead. Exceptions would be made for persons with disabilities until safe and adequate alternatives are developed.
• Styrofoam: This would ban the use of expanded polystyrene (EPS) in food-ware, disposable coolers and shipping packaging.
• Labeling requirements: Consumer products made from plastic would require a clear and standardized labeling which indicates how waste should be disposed and the presence of plastics in the products.
• Awareness measures: States would be encouraged to raise consumers’ awareness about the negative impact of littering of single-use plastics and other items as well as about the available reuse systems and waste management options for all these products.