Thursday, July 13, 2023

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley and U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) teamed up with U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett (D-TX-37) to introduce a bicameral resolution designating July as Plastic Pollution Action Month, citing extreme concern over the plastic pollution crisis that is threatening human health, dumping tens of millions of pieces of plastic in the ocean, and killing hundreds of thousands of animals every year.

The resolution spotlights the dangers plastic pollution poses to both human health and the environment. Their resolution encourages all individuals in the United States to protect, conserve, and maintain the environment by taking steps to reduce their plastic pollution, this month and beyond.

“For years, Americans have been taught the three R’s—reduce, reuse, and recycle—and that as long as we put our plastic items into blue bins, we could protect our environment,” said Merkley, who serves as the Chair of the Environment and Public Works subcommittee overseeing environmental justice and chemical safety. “The truth is, it’s more like the three B’s—plastic is buried, burned, or borne out to sea. This allows dangerous chemicals to seep into our air, water, and soil and threatens the health of all Americans, especially in communities of color and low-income communities. Designating July as Plastic Pollution Action Month brings attention to the urgency of the problem, and we must come together to deliver the solutions to this crisis that our families and our planet deserve.” 

“The plastic pollution crisis continues to harm marine ecosystems and threaten human health,” said Senator Whitehouse, who co-founded the bipartisan Senate Oceans Caucus to find common ground in responding to issues facing the oceans and coasts. “Plastic Pollution Action Month is an opportunity to renew our commitment and shared responsibility to clean up the plastic trash choking the oceans.”

“Plastic waste and pollution overwhelmingly sullies our environment, contaminates our food and water, and as microplastics, seeps into our bodies,” said Rep. Doggett. “Without an earnest commitment and meaningful action, health and environmental dangers will only intensify. By designating July as Plastic Pollution Action Month, we send a clear message: for the health of our planet and the health of Americans, we must urgently respond to the growing harms of plastic pollution and a massive, misleading plastic industry marketing blitz.”

Senator Merkley has been a consistent voice and leader in efforts to combat the plastic pollution crisis, including chairing a series of hearings to examine the impacts of plastics production. In past Congresses, Merkley has led the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act—legislation that offers the most comprehensive plan ever introduced in Congress to address the plastic pollution crisis that is poisoning our air, water, and land.

Full text of the resolution is available here.