Washington, D.C. – On Wednesday, December 16, Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced the Unify Nations in Trash Elimination (UNITE) for our Oceans Act of 2020. Chever Voltmer, Plastics Initiative Director at Ocean Conservancy, released the following statement:
“It’s simple: collecting, sorting, and managing waste – whether it ends up in a landfill or recycled into a brand new product – costs money. And Ocean Conservancy research and engagement in parts of the world most impacted by plastic pollution have shown again and again that lack of funding at the local level is a key barrier to keeping trash and plastics out of waterways and our ocean. As we have learned through our Urban Ocean program, many cities are struggling to implement holistic and resilient solutions to ocean plastic pollution while managing the current pandemic and its associated economic impacts. This very challenging year has been the ultimate pressure test. Local communities remain committed to doing their part – none have hit pause or reduced their level of effort as a result of the unprecedented economic and waste management challenges brought on by the pandemic – but they need support. This trust fund could be the lifeline these communities need to identify and scale appropriate interventions in these unprecedented times.
“We congratulate Senators Coons and Graham for their leadership in proposing this ambitious legislation and continuing a tradition of bipartisan support on the issue. Beyond authorizing a substantial investment, the bill importantly recognizes that incineration is not a sustainable solution while also providing flexibility to direct resources at the local level where they are needed most.
“We hope that this bill is the first of many to be presented to the new administration addressing the scourge of plastic pollution. The threat of plastic pollution knows no borders, and as a top contributor to the ocean plastics crisis, the United States has an important role to play in tackling this problem, both at home – from prioritizing the reduction of unnecessary single-use plastics to improving our own recycling rates – and abroad.”