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McCaul, Engel Introduce Bill to Reduce Plastic Waste in the Ocean – Committee on Foreign Affairs

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Washington, D.C. – Last week, Lead Republican Michael McCaul and Chairman Eliot Engel introduced the Partnering and Leveraging Assistance to Stop Trash for Cleaner Seas Act (PLASTICS Act), which aims to reduce marine debris and plastic waste in the ocean. Over eight million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean every year, damaging the health of marine life, impeding economic development and harming the environment. Most marine debris enters the oceans from land-based sources, mainly in developing countries that lack the capacity to adequately manage waste and prevent dumping. This legislation will advance efforts to work with national governments and local communities to develop integrated waste management systems to effectively prevent and reduce plastic waste. It encourages federal departments and agencies to work with entities in the private sector and with nongovernmental organizations to leverage private and public capital to complement United States assistance programs. It supports local economic development through  programs that assist community members, particularly women, youth, and marginalized populations, to derive economic benefit from waste products and participation in waste management systems. It also urges U.S. leadership in international and regional efforts to prevent and reduce marine debris and plastic waste. This legislation supports the commitments that the United States made at both 2018 Our Ocean Conference and the 2019 G20 Summit to achieve measurable benchmarks in preventing marine debris from entering the ocean and reduce plastic pollution. 

Lead Republican McCaul said: “Millions of tons of plastic waste end up in our oceans every year that damages marine ecosystems, threatens global food supplies, endangers health systems and impedes economic growth. Approximately ninety percent of this waste comes from just ten river systems. Eliminating plastic waste in our oceans will require a coordinated global response that is practical, innovative and measurable. The PLASTICS Act will leverage U.S. foreign assistance dollars and promote public-private partnerships to support the development of integrated waste management systems in developing countries. Building the capacity of local and national governments to more effectively manage waste, as well as  elevating market-based solutions to these complex issues, will be crucial to the global effort to clean up our oceans. I am proud to spearhead this bipartisan initiative in Congress and will continue working to protect our valuable shared resources on a global scale.”

“Millions of tons of plastic wind up in our oceans every year, causing serious harm to our health and environment.  The United States is one of  the world’s largest producers and consumers of plastic products and the top exporter of plastic scrap—we have a critical role to play in addressing this issue. This legislation puts us on the right track to remedy this rapidly growing problem,” said Chairman Engel.

The PLASTICS Act would: 

  • Prevent and reduce marine debris and plastic waste, including through reduced consumption, greater transparency in global trade of plastic waste, and support for integrated waste management systems in developing countries;
  • Advancing market-based solutions to support integrated waste management systems and improve market demand for recycled materials;
  • Building the capacity of national governments and local communities to develop and implement integrated waste management systems;
  • Supporting local economic development through programs that assist community members, particularly women, youth, and marginalized populations, to derive economic benefit from waste products and participation in waste management systems;
  • Establishing monitoring mechanisms and measurable goals to ensure the effective use of United States foreign assistance;
  • Elevating U.S. participation in international and regional efforts to prevent and reduce marine debris and plastic waste.

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Author: ForeignAffairs

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