Could producers of plastics be required to help recycle them?
Author: Whitney Pipkin
According to the report, the most successful laws cater to a state’s specific needs by considering the industries that will be impacted and the state’s existing recycling infrastructure and economics. Still, the report found that state-based legislation layered with a regional approach could make the recycling process easier on both producers and consumers. A 2021 study found that because of the Bay’s unique shape and flow, it’s likely serving as a “sink” for plastic pollution in the region. An estimated 94% of the plastics that enter the Bay and its waters do not leave the watershed. A committee of researchers convened by the state-federal Chesapeake Bay Program in 2019 to look further into the problem concluded that plastics pose a serious potential risk and launched a series of research projects and oversight measures. Meanwhile, the United States alone creates more than 35 million pounds of plastic waste per year - and less than 10% of it is recycled, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The largest recent influence on recycling trends was a decision by China in 2018 to severely limit the import of plastic waste from other countries. Without this option, many states and localities have struggled to fund costly domestic recycling programs. Much of the plastic pollution laws in the Bay watershed have been piecemeal, focused on a city or county banning materials, such as polystyrene food s and plastic straws, which commonly end up in the water. “But a comprehensive approach to plastics waste has yet to be successful,” the report states.