A Voice for Our Ocean

STATEMENT: EPA’s Draft Plastic Pollution Strategy Reflects Need for Urgent Action

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Rich Carey:Shutterstock_Plastics OE Image
© Rich Carey/Shutterstock

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the Draft National Strategy to Prevent Plastic Pollution for public comment. Dr. Anja Brandon, associate director of U.S. plastics policy at Ocean Conservancy and an engineer and material science expert who has co-authored landmark plastics legislation in recent years, issued the following statement:

“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. Analysis of 35 years’ worth of data from Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup show that roughly 70% of the most commonly collected items from beaches and waterways across the world are effectively unrecyclable, and of these, nearly half are food and beverage related items.

“We also cannot overstate the importance of the EPA specifically noting that chemical recycling technologies produce fuels, not plastics. We are glad to see the EPA follow the science that shows that these technologies do not recover plastic, and instead perpetuate our climate crisis and environmental injustices.

“Ocean Conservancy looks forward to reviewing the strategy in further detail and hope to see a strong, effective plan implemented.”


This statement was updated on April 26, 2023.


The draft strategy clarifies the EPA’s position on chemical recycling technologies like pyrolysis as non-recycling technologies. This is a significant shift from EPA’s National Recycling Strategy released in November of 2021, in which the EPA suggested that “all options, including chemical recycling, should be discussed…” This change in policy comes after Ocean Conservancy worked with Representative Huffman on appropriations report language that highlighted these concerns with the technology and encouraged the agency to continue regulating these types of technologies as what they are: municipal waste combustion.

About Ocean Conservancy

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 FacebookTwitter or Instagram.

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

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