New York — A coalition of 14 attorneys general (AGs) led by California Attorney General Rob Bonta filed comments yesterday in response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Request for Information on a Draft National Strategy to Prevent Plastic Pollution. In yesterday’s comments, the AGs urged EPA to address the production and design of plastics in order to account for the full scope of the life cycle of plastics. “The plastic pollution crisis is one of the most pervasive challenges of our time…and perhaps unsurprisingly, the impacts of this crisis are not felt equally.” The AGs discussed the health toll on the most vulnerable and overburdened communities in their states and explained that living near plastic production facilities can result in “breathing in the worst air, drinking the worst water, and tragically, developing cancer at higher rates.”
The AGs explained that lowered production would “reduce stress on our already overwhelmed waste management system by strategically reducing our reliance on single-use products, conventional plastic or otherwise.” Additionally, they called on EPA to work with states and international bodies on efforts to develop plastics alternatives, adopt national labeling standards for plastics, and launch a national reorientation campaign designed to “shift away from the current throw-away lifestyle and toward an equitable, circular future.”
“Plastics are seeping into our waterways, contaminating our air, and poisoning our environment,” said California Attorney General Rob Bonta. “The harm from all this is disproportionately borne by our most vulnerable communities. We must act now to protect them.”
“From start to finish, plastic materials play a role in our lives, damage our environment, and impact our health,” said Bethany Davis Noll, Executive Director of the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center. “The AG comments on this draft national strategy highlight important steps that are needed to address plastic pollution.”
Background — In 2020, the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act was signed into law and directed EPA to develop a strategy to improve post-consumer materials management and infrastructure to reduce plastic waste and other materials from our waterways and the oceans. In 2021, the EPA published its National Recycling Strategy: Part One of a Series on Building a Circular Economy. In April 2023, EPA issued its Draft National Strategy to Prevent Plastic Pollution. EPA hosted a webinar about the draft strategy in May.
EPA has received tens of thousands of comments on the draft national strategy so far. Those comments address the objectives and questions posed, as well as highlight environmental justice concerns. Filed comments are available to review on regulations.gov.
The attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Washington, D.C. joined AG Bonta in yesterday’s comments.
About the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center:
The State Energy & Environmental Impact Center at NYU School of Law is a nonpartisan academic center at NYU School of Law. The Center is dedicated to working towards a healthy and safe environment, guided by inclusive and equitable principles. The Center studies and supports the work of state attorneys general (AGs) in defending, enforcing, and promoting strong laws and policies in the areas of climate, environmental justice, environmental protection, and clean energy.