A new bill proposed in the UK could make it illegal to export plastic waste to other countries, and in the US a bill proposes that producers become responsible for the plastic waste recycling.
Exports in focus in the UK
Much of the plastic waste produced by the UK gets sent to developing countries, in fact trade data shows that more than 356,000 tonnes of plastic ended up leaving the UK this way in 2018.
A new bill before parliament is aiming to make it illegal for developing nations to become dumping grounds for our rubbish. Firms that produce packaging will also come under the spotlight, and will be expected to take more responsibility for the products and materials that they put on the market.
The US puts the responsibility on producers
Similarily a bill proposed by Democrat representative Alan Lowenthal looks to shift the responsibility for plastic waste and recycling from the consumer to the producer.
With plastics production expected to triple by 2050 and with just 8% of plastic in the United States recycled, Lowenthal said that the Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act of 2020 “is the most comprehensive legislation ever introduced in Congress to tackle the plastic waste crisis.”
The bill requires plastics producers to take responsibility for designing, managing, and financing waste recycling programs; creates a 10-cent national refund program for all beverage containers; prohibits some single-use plastic products, including restaurant carryout items; and calls for an increasing amount of recycled content in plastic beverage containers.
Both bills suggest a trend in new legislation is looming that will put more emphasis on producers, suppliers, and retailers to account for the packaging materials that they produce, as we head towards a more sustainable future.
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