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STATEMENT: Ocean Conservancy Endorses REDUCE Act to Establish Fee on Single-Use Virgin Plastic Resin

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On September 16, 2021, Ocean Conservancy and a group of 19 other environmental NGOs sent a letter to Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance and Representative Richard Neal (D-MA), Chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means, in support of the REDUCE Act. Introduced by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Representative Tom Suozzi (D-NY), the bill would, by 2024, impose a 20 cent-per-pound fee on virgin plastic resin used to make single-use products like carry-out bags, plastic bottles, and straws – products that make up the vast majority of trash littering beaches and waterways around the world, according to Ocean Conservancy data. Senator Whitehouse released the letter to the public on September 28, 2021, and Nick Mallos, senior director of Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas program, issued the following statement:

“Virgin plastics are cheap and prolific, in part because they have benefitted from enormous subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. This has made it nearly impossible for recycled plastics to compete. This plastic fee is a much-needed market correction that will help reduce our use of virgin plastics and move us toward a circular economy. We are already drowning in plastics – more than a garbage truck’s worth of plastics enters our ocean every minute, with plastics showing up in our air, our drinking water, and on our dinner plates – and the only way to get out of this mess is to make less and reuse more. The REDUCE Act will help level the economic playing field for recycled materials to help us do just that.

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Notes for reporters:

Year after year, single-use plastics dominate the list of items removed by volunteers from beaches and waterways around the world during Ocean Conservancy’s annual International Coastal Cleanup (ICC).

Earlier this month, Ocean Conservancy released its 2021 ICC report. Since the first ICC in 1986, nearly 17 million volunteers have collected over 357 million items. Analysis of the 17 most commonly collected items – including cigarette butts, plastic wrappers, plastic bottles, plastic bottle caps, straws and stirrers – found that 69% of the trash collected by volunteers is not recyclable in most circumstances.

The analysis found that food related waste, including straws, cutlery, and takeout containers, make up more than 60% of the most commonly collected items at the ICC.

About Ocean Conservancy

Ocean Conservancy is working to protect the ocean from today’s greatest global challenges. Together with our partners, we create science-based solutions for a healthy ocean and the wildlife and communities that depend on it. For more information, visit oceanconservancy.org, 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 oceanconservancy.org/trashfreeseas.

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