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A Voice for our Ocean

STATEMENT: Our Ocean Needs the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act Now More Than Ever

Latest iteration of landmark legislation is a testament to California’s leadership

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Representative Jared Huffman (D-CA-02) reintroduced the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act in Congress. Ocean Conservancy endorsed the legislation when it was first introduced in February 2020 and again in 2021, and has continually worked with members of Congress to refine the scope and language of the bill. Dr. Anja Brandon, Associate Director of U.S. Plastics Policy at Ocean Conservancy and an environmental engineer who has helped draft landmark state and national legislation regulating plastic pollution in recent years, issued the following statement:

“With more than a garbage truck’s worth of plastic entering our ocean every minute, it’s no secret that we need systemic action to turn the tide on this crisis; and with the U.S. generating the most plastic waste of any country in the world, we know this action must start at home.

“Since its first introduction in 2020, the Break Free From Plastic Pollution has helped spur a wave of state level action to address the growing plastic pollution crisis, perhaps nowhere more so than California, which last year passed the strongest plastics legislation in the world. With strengthened provisions for reducing single-use plastics, support for reuse and refill systems, and stronger enforcement and accountability for polluters, this latest version of the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act is a reflection of not only the hard work of members of Congress who have led the charge to tackle plastics on a national level, but also of the achievement of advocates and legislators in California who have pushed us towards the bigger and bolder action that our ocean needs.

“Ocean Conservancy applauds Senator Merkley, Representative Huffman, and their cosponsors for introducing the third iteration of the Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act, and we look forward to working with members of Congress and the Biden Administration in our fight against the ocean plastics crisis.”



Other notable new or amended of this iteration of the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act include:

  • Plastics source reduction of 25% by 2032, in line with California’s SB54 requirements. This increases to 50% by 2050, following what Ocean Conservancy has called for at the global level.
  • Enhanced financing for the cleanup of plastic pollution in the environment, paid for by plastic producers and resin manufacturers, following the model established in CA SB 54.
  • Updated post-consumer recycled content requirements for plastic bottles that mirrors the best practices outlined in Ocean Conservancy’s recommendations for recycled content standards.
  • Incorporates the Protecting Communities from Plastics Act, which strengthens protections for communities most harmed by petrochemical production and pollution. Ocean Conservancy endorsed and helped craft this language.
  • Phases out the items on the U.S. Plastic Pact’s Problematic and Unnecessary Material List, including plastic foam foodware (often colloquially referred to by the brand name Styrofoam). Plastic foam foodware is one of the top ten plastic items collected by International Coastal Cleanup volunteers, and a recent Ocean Conservancy report found that 70% of Americans would support a national ban on this material.


Ocean Conservancy is working to protect the ocean from today’s greatest global challenges. Together with our partners, we create evidence-based solutions for a healthy ocean and the wildlife and communities that depend on it. For more information, visit, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Media Contact

Madeline Black




Government Relations

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