EPA unveils plan to tackle plastic pollution with circular approach

packaging bottles

U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set out its “Draft National Strategy to Prevent Plastic Pollution”, which is focused on actions to reduce, reuse, collect and capture plastic waste.

EPA identified three key objectives for the strategy: reduce pollution during plastic production, improve post-use materials management and prevent waste and micro/nanoplastics” from entering waterways and remove escaped waste from the environment.

EPA says the proposed actions under each objective support the United States’ shift to a circular approach that is “restorative or regenerative by design, enables resources to maintain their highest value for as long as possible and aims to eliminate waste in the management of plastic products”.

The Agency has now opened a 45-day public comment period. EPA is asking the public to consider several questions when reviewing and commenting on the draft strategy, including which actions are the most important and would have the greatest positive impact at the local, regional, national and global levels.

EPA says shifting to a circular approach for plastics management in the U.S. will involve improving the U.S.’ capacity to reuse and refill products, increase data availability, conduct life cycle assessments, and improve consumer outreach and understanding of the proper management of plastic and other waste.

Views on the strategy


In response to the EPA’s Draft National Strategy, John Hocevar, Greenpeace USA’s Oceans Campaign Director, commented: “It is encouraging to see the EPA’s proposal to reduce the production and consumption of single-use, unrecyclable plastic products.

“We can’t protect our communities or the environment from plastic pollution unless we drastically reduce plastic production and use, and this draft is a step in the right direction.”

Hocevar went on to say there is “no such thing” as a circular economy for plastic apart from a “small portion that is downcycled once or twice before being dumped or burned”. He also claimed that plastic waste is not usually recycled and, currently, it will ultimately be placed on a landfill or incinerated.

Greenpeace USA is also calling for an immediate end to exports of plastic waste to the Global South.

We can’t protect our communities or the environment from plastic pollution unless we drastically reduce plastic production and use.

Reacting to the strategy, Dr. Anja Brandon, associate director of U.S. plastics policy at Ocean Conservancy and an engineer and material science expert, commented: “To solve the ocean plastic pollution crisis, we know that we need to do it all: produce less plastic across the board; invest in waste management and reuse systems; and clean-up what is already in the environment.

“The actions listed in the draft strategy released by the Biden-Harris administration today reflect these critical pillars.

“It’s particularly notable to see a commitment to producing fewer single-use, unrecyclable, and frequently littered plastic products. Ocean Conservancy looks forward to reviewing the strategy in further detail and hope to see a strong, effective plan implemented.”

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