Merkley, Whitehouse, Doggett Urge Fellow Americans to Take ‘Plastic Pollution Action Month’ This July

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, Rhode Island’s U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, and U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett (D-TX-37) today introduced a bicameral resolution designating July as Plastic Pollution Action Month. They spotlight the dangers plastic pollution poses to both human health and the environment, and call on Americans to protect, conserve, and maintain our planet by taking steps to reduce their plastic pollution, this month and beyond.

“The plastic pollution crisis is a public health emergency for Americans everywhere, demanding bold action. For years, we were taught the three Rs—reduce, reuse, and recycle. The reality for plastics is really the three Bs—buried, burned, or borne out to sea—and dangerous chemicals seeping into our soil, air, and water,” Merkley said. “Plastic Pollution Action Month brings attention to the urgency of this crisis, which disproportionately impacts communities of color and low-income communities. We must all come together to address the full scale of plastic pollution for current and future generations of Americans.”

“A deluge of plastic pollution is clogging up the oceans and filling the nets of Rhode Island fishermen,” Whitehouse said.  “This Plastic Pollution Action Month is an opportunity to clean up the plastic trash choking ecosystems across the globe and threatening human health.”

“From the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink to our greenspaces and waterways, plastic waste and pollution affect all aspects of our lives,” Doggett said. “With so much misleading propaganda from plastic makers, this resolution serves as a reminder of the many dangers posed by plastics. Until we overcome industry opposition to take meaningful action, these health and environmental dangers will only intensify.”

The resolution is cosponsored in the Senate by Senators Peter Welch (D-VT), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).

In his role as the Chair of the Environment and Public Works subcommittee overseeing environmental justice and chemical safety, Merkley held a first-of-its-kind series of hearings investigating plastic production and pollution. Merkley’s hearings have examined: environmental and climate damage from plasticsimpacts of plastics on environmental justice communitiesreuse and refill systemsbeverage container waste, and consumer challenges to recycling. He also leads the Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act, the most comprehensive plan ever introduced in Congress to address the plastic pollution crisis that is poisoning our air, water, and land, and disproportionately impacting communities of color and low-income Americans.

As a co-founder of the Senate Oceans Caucus, Whitehouse has played a key role in crafting bipartisan policies to confront the challenges of ocean plastic pollution. Whitehouse and Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) wrote the bipartisan Save Our Seas and Save Our Seas 2.0 Acts, the most comprehensive marine debris measures ever passed into law. Whitehouse’s REDUCE Act would impose a 20-cent per pound fee on the sale of virgin plastic resin that is used to make single-use plastics.

“Nearly 40 years of Ocean Conservancy data has exposed the harm that millions of pounds of plastic debris inflict on our ocean, coastal communities, and wildlife. Designating July as Plastic Pollution Action Month is a great reminder that in addition to systemic policy change, we all have a role to play in tackling the plastic pollution crisis. We commend Senator Merkley, Senator Whitehouse, Rep. Doggett, and other congressional leaders in raising awareness of the plastic pollution crisis, and we hope this leads the U.S. to act on commonsense, upstream solutions to end plastic pollution,” said Dr. Anja Brandon, Associate Director, U.S. Plastics Policy.

Full text of the resolution is available here.