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Democrats weigh first nationwide fee on plastic in U.S. budget negotiations By Reuters


© Reuters. FILEPHOTO: Hard-to-recycle plastic waste is seen being piled up by Renewlogy Technologies at Salt Lake City in Utah on May 17, 2020. REUTERS/George Frey

By Valerie Volcovici and Jarrett Renshaw

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. congressional Democrats are considering including the first federal fee to tackle plastic pollution in the multitrillion-dollar reconciliation bill, a proposal that is drawing opposition from the plastics and petrochemical industry.

With other Democrats, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse is in discussions to include the REDUCE Act in the reconciliation bill as a revenue source. It will impose an additional 20c per pound on virgin (or new) plastic used for single-use products like plastic bags or beverage containers.

This proposal is one of a number of money-raising options being examined by the White House, Democrats in order to fund a package which includes provisions that address climate change and expand the public safety net. This measure is an important pillar in President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda. Democrats hope to pass it without Republican support.

Officials from the White House declined to comment. However, two people familiar with Biden’s thinking stated that they are hesitant to endorse the plastics fees because it may increase costs for consumers.

According to a study published in Science Advances in 2017, more than 90% of the plastic that is produced ends up in landfills or being incinerated.

REDUCE Act will require plastic manufacturers to make more use of recycled material and to direct their revenue towards supporting recycling and addressing plastic marine debris.

“That pollution chokes our oceans, hastens climate change, and threatens Americans’ well-being, and it’s the plastics industry that should cover the cost of the damage,” Whitehouse said. 

American Chemistry Council (ACC), which is comprised of some of the most important plastics and petrochemical corporations, has launched an ad campaign to oppose the proposed fee. They claim that the increase in consumer goods costs would cause a rise.

Matthew Kastner from the ACC stated that they have been actively lobbying legislators to deny the idea, and are now “beginning to engage with the White House.”

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