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June 14 -- Comment period extended through July 31, 2023. https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-12684

1) May 2 -- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has developed the Draft National Strategy to Prevent Plastic Pollution to reduce plastic waste and other post-consumer materials in waterways and oceans, as directed by Congress in section 301 of the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act. This Notice provides the public with an opportunity to share information and provide feedback on the draft strategy, which identifies actions where EPA can work collaboratively with stakeholders to prevent plastic pollution and reduce, reuse, collect, and capture plastic and other waste from land-based sources. EPA is seeking public comment from a broad array of stakeholders engaged in post-consumer materials management and infrastructure, including, but not limited to: state, tribal, territorial, and local governments; industry; researchers; academia; non-profit organizations; community groups; and international organizations. Public comments received will inform the Agency’s efforts to finalize and implement the strategy and further work with stakeholders to implement the actions. Comments must be received on or before June 16, 2023.

FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-08970

2) Apr 21 [press release] -- Today, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the draft “National Strategy to Prevent Plastic Pollution” for public comment, a significant step forward in the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to reduce pollution and build a circular economy for all. EPA’s draft strategy includes ambitious actions to eliminate the release of plastic and other waste from land-based sources into the environment by 2040. . . .

The release of EPA’s draft national strategy comes as the agency and the Biden-Harris Administration celebrate Earth Week, and was released alongside a new White House Interagency Policy Committee (IPC) on Plastic Pollution and a Circular Economy. The IPC will coordinate federal efforts on plastic pollution, prioritizing public health, economic development, environmental justice, and equity to ensure that the benefits of acting on plastic pollution – including jobs, minimized exposure to harmful chemicals, and clean communities – are available to all.

In the last 20 years, global annual production of plastics and plastic waste has more than doubled. As a result, communities face pollution not only from the manufacture and transportation of plastic and associated chemicals, but from the millions of tons of plastic products end up in waste streams and “leak” into parks, neighborhoods, waterways and oceans. Products that range from shopping bags and takeout food containers to beverage bottles, food wrappers, bottle caps, and much more can be found in the environment.

Working closely with industry leaders and additional stakeholders, EPA identified three key objectives for the strategy:

Objective A: Reduce pollution during plastic production.
Objective B: Improve post-use materials management.
Objective C: Prevent trash and micro/nanoplastics from entering waterways and remove escaped trash from the environment.  

The draft “National Strategy to Prevent Plastic Pollution,” together with EPA’s “National Recycling Strategy,” identifies how the Agency can work collaboratively with U.S. organizations to prevent plastic pollution and reduce, reuse, recycle, and capture plastic and other waste from land-based sources. These actions support a circular approach to the management of plastics – one that is regenerative by design, enables resources to maintain their highest value for as long as possible, and aims for the elimination of waste.

Examples of actions in the draft strategy include:  

-- Improve the design of plastic products to provide more reuse and refill opportunities.
-- Increase solid waste collection and ensure that solid waste management does not adversely impact communities.
-- Produce fewer single-use, unrecyclable, and frequently littered plastic products, and reduce pollution from plastic production facilities.
-- Increase public awareness of ways to reduce plastic and other trash in waterways.

EPA invites public comments on the draft “National Strategy to Prevent Plastic Pollution.” EPA included specific questions in the draft report for the public and other organizations to provide feedback. EPA expects to finalize the strategy by the end of the year. . . .

In response to growing local, national, and global concerns over plastic pollution and marine debris, Congress passed the bipartisan Save Our Seas 2.0 Act. Title 3, “Improving Domestic Infrastructure to Prevent Marine Debris, Section 301 Strategy for Improving Post-Consumer Materials Management and Water Management” charges EPA with developing a strategy to improve post-consumer materials management and infrastructure to reduce plastic waste and other post-consumer materials in waterways and oceans. Congress also asked EPA to “distribute the strategy to States and make it publicly available, including for use by for-profit private entities involved in post-consumer materials management and other nongovernmental entities.” Together with the “National Recycling Strategy,” the “National Strategy to Prevent Plastic Pollution” fulfills this mandate.  

This is a domestic strategy that identifies strategic objectives and voluntary actions that all U.S. organizations can implement to reduce, reuse, collect, and prevent plastic and other waste from entering the environment. The actions are not limited to EPA’s authority or jurisdiction but are actions where EPA can work collaboratively with entities – non-governmental organizations, governments, tribes, and others – to address plastic pollution. The strategy targets post-consumer materials, especially those items that are expected to make their way through the municipal solid waste stream but are leaked or littered, such as single-use plastics. Additionally, the strategy recognizes the harmful impacts associated with the production, manufacture and transport of plastic products on communities from air and water pollution associated with those processes. The proposed actions under each objective create opportunities for all to reduce the amount of plastic and other pollution in communities, parks, waterways and oceans.

Read the draft “National Strategy to Prevent Plastic Pollution” and provide comments. https://www.epa.gov/circulareconomy/draft-national-strategy-prevent-plastic-pollution

EPA will collect public comments on this draft strategy through the docket in Regulations.gov for 45 days once notice is published in the Federal Register. EPA asks the public to consider several key questions in the draft strategy when reviewing and commenting on it:

1) Which actions are the most important and would have the greatest positive impact at the local, regional, national, and global levels? Consider:
-- Which actions can best protect human health and environmental quality?
-- Which actions are most important to address environmental justice and climate change?
-- What are the key steps and milestones necessary to successfully implement the actions in the draft strategy?
2) What are the most important roles and/or actions for federal agencies to lead?
3) Is your organization willing to lead an action or collaborate with others to implement the actions?
-- What factors would your organization consider when determining whether to lead an action?
4) What are potential unintended consequences of the proposed actions that could impact communities considered overburdened or vulnerable, such as shifts in production or management methods?
5) What key metrics and indicators should EPA use to measure progress in reducing plastic and other waste in waterways and oceans?
6) What criteria should processes meet to be considered “recycling activities” (e.g., “plastics-to-plastics outputs are ‘recycling’ if these processes reduce the life cycle environmental impacts in comparison to traditional mechanical recycling”)?
7) Are there other actions that should be included in the Strategy?
-- Should EPA expand the scope of the strategy to include sea-based sources?
-- Should specific types of plastic products be targeted for reduction or reuse in this strategy?
8) Do you have any additional information or recommendations for EPA regarding these or other proposed actions in the draft strategy?

EPA will host a one-hour webinar on May 11, 2023 at 1:00 pm Eastern Time to provide an overview of the draft strategy and the key questions EPA is seeking comment on.
Press release: https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/biden-harris-administration-announces-latest-steps-reduce-plastic-pollution-nationwide

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