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Comprehensive Federal Policies, Not Taxes, Needed to Help End Plastic Waste

Matthew Kastner

WASHINGTON (August 9, 2021) – The American Chemistry Council today responded to the introduction of the REDUCE Act by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), a bill that would levy an “excise tax” of 20 cents per pound on “virgin” plastics. The following statement may be attributed to Joshua Baca, ACC’s vice president of plastics.

“America’s plastic makers share Senator Whitehouse’s concerns about the serious problem of plastic waste in our environment. We applaud his past work to help pass two Save Our Seas Acts to combat marine litter. And we look forward to working with him again to develop constructive policies that help keep plastic waste out of our environment.

“To help end plastic waste, we established an ambitious goal for 100% of U.S. plastic packaging to be re-used, recycled or recovered by 2040. To get there, we need smart, comprehensive public policies that will lead to a circular economy, in which valuable materials such as plastics are reused rather than discarded.

“Last month we called on Congress to take 5 Actions to accelerate a circular economy, including requiring all plastic packaging to include at least 30% recycled plastic by 2030 through a national recycled plastics standard. We also called for establishing an American-designed producer responsibility system for packaging to help raise funds to increase recycling access, collection and outreach for all materials, including plastics. The 5 Actions represent a comprehensive, national strategy to confront the challenges of plastic waste head on.

“Unfortunately, the REDUCE Act takes a piecemeal approach by adding an excise tax on certain plastics sold, plus a series of confusing rebates that appear to pick winners and losers among consumer product companies, with some paying the tax and others receiving a rebate. Such a scheme would essentially punish producers of valuable American products without advancing a circular economy for plastics. It also could incentivize a switch to use alternative materials that typically produce significantly more greenhouse gas emissions than plastics.

“In addition, Congress right now is looking at placing significant excise taxes on the raw materials used to make plastics, which would effectively tax virgin plastics. It’s not time to pile on even more taxes and further fuel inflation.

“We believe that a national standard requiring all plastic packaging to include at least 30% recycled plastics within the decade is a much more feasible, market-driven approach to increasing recycling and reducing waste, without resorting to harmful taxes.

“We encourage Congress to take up the 5 Actions that would create comprehensive federal policies to accelerate the circular economy and help end plastic waste.”

American Chemistry Council

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) represents the leading companies engaged in the multibillion-dollar business of chemistry. ACC members apply the science of chemistry to make innovative products, technologies and services that make people's lives better, healthier and safer. ACC is committed to improved environmental, health, safety and security performance through Responsible Care®; common sense advocacy addressing major public policy issues; and health and environmental research and product testing. ACC members and chemistry companies are among the largest investors in research and development, and are advancing products, processes and technologies to address climate change, enhance air and water quality, and progress toward a more sustainable, circular economy.

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