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Ocean Conservancy Statement on Expanding Extended Producer Responsibility Legislation in the U.S.

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SANTA CRUZ, CA – Earlier this week, the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators announced the formation of the National Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging Legislator Network, a coordinated effort involving lawmakers in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Vermont and Washington state to push for extended producer responsibility (EPR) policies for plastic packaging. George Leonard, chief scientist at Ocean Conservancy, released the following statement:

The growing movement to advance EPR legislation in the United States is exactly what we need to tackle the ocean plastics crisis, and Ocean Conservancy is pleased to see this coordinated national effort take root through the National Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging Legislator Network. With more than 11 million metric tons of plastic entering the ocean each year, plastic pollution has become one of the most prolific and most visible threats facing our ocean today. And as the number-one generator of plastic waste in the world and a top contributor to the ocean plastics crisis, the U.S. has a critical role to play. But plastic pollution cannot be solved by a single state alone or on a product-by-product basis; a systemic solution is needed. The private sector must take greater responsibility for the environmental consequences of the products they sell and play a bigger role in keeping plastics out of our ocean, and EPR is a proven approach to achieve these goals. Ocean Conservancy analysis shows that EPR is one of the single most effective policy tools to meet the challenges of improving waste management, securing durable funding, and moving toward a “circular economy,” where plastics and other materials are reused and repurposed again and again rather than ending up in a landfill. We strongly support these lawmakers’ efforts to make EPR for the plastic packaging supply chain a reality.

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Note to editors: A fact sheet on plastic packaging pollution is available here. Photos of plastic packaging pollution are available here and additional photos may be available upon request.

About Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas® Program

Ocean Conservancy has led the fight for a clean, healthy ocean free of trash since 1986, when the U.S.-based nonprofit launched its annual International Coastal Cleanup (ICC). Since then, Ocean Conservancy has mobilized millions of ICC volunteers to remove trash from beaches and waterways around the world while pioneering upstream solutions to the growing ocean plastics crisis. Ocean Conservancy invests in cutting-edge scientific research, implements on-the-ground projects, and works with conservationists, scientists, governments, the private sector and members of the public to change the plastics paradigm. To learn more about our Trash Free Seas® program visit oceanconservancy.org/trashfreeseas, and follow Ocean Conservancy on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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