Biden Administration Misses Opportunity to Reduce Single-Use Plastics   - Oceana USA

Biden Administration Misses Opportunity to Reduce Single-Use Plastics  

President Biden must do more to reduce the government’s purchasing of single-use plastics

Press Release Date: June 6, 2024



Ariana Miller | email: | tel: Ariana Miller

Today the General Services Administration (GSA) announced its final rule on reducing single-use plastic packaging. The GSA is the federal agency that oversees government procurement. The U.S. government is the world’s largest purchaser of goods and services, and decisions by federal government can have a global impact on the plastic pollution crisis.  

An estimated 33 billion pounds of plastic enter the oceans every year, including single-use items such as plastic bottles, packaging, takeout food containers, and bags. With the GSA’s release of a narrow rule, Oceana is calling on the Biden administration to move forward with additional policies to reduce single-use plastic packaging and products and to incentivize refillable and reusable alternatives.  

“This is a missed opportunity. This rule can’t be the end, this has to be the first step toward greater action to reduce the federal government’s purchasing of single-use plastics,” said Christy Leavitt, Oceana’s plastics campaign director. “President Biden must do more to address the growing plastic pollution crisis that is already harming our oceans, climate, health, and communities. The U.S. government’s immense purchasing power can play an important role in reducing plastic pollution in the U.S. and around the world. Moving forward, the Biden administration must set strong policies to reduce plastic pollution at the source and support reuse and refill.” 

The Biden administration committed in 2022 to phase out single-use plastic products on public lands managed by the Department of the Interior, including Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Acadia, and all other national parks. According to a national poll released by Oceana in February 2023, an overwhelming 82% of U.S. voters across party lines support reducing the federal government’s use of single-use plastic — nearly 85% of Democrats and 77% of Republicans.  

In February 2024, Oceana submitted comments to the GSA as part of the public comment period on the proposed rule and delivered more than 6,900 petition signatures calling on the federal government to reduce the purchase of single-use plastics. 


Plastic has been found in every corner of the world and has turned up in drinking water, beer, salt, honey, and more. It’s also one of the greatest contributors to climate change. In fact, if plastic were a country, it would be the fifth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world. With plastic production growing at a rapid rate, increased amounts of plastic can be expected to flood our blue planet with devastating consequences.  

A 2020 Oceana report revealed evidence of nearly 1,800 animals from 40 different species swallowing or becoming entangled in plastic in U.S. waters between 2009 and early 2020. Of those animals, a staggering 88% were from species listed as endangered or threatened with extinction under the Endangered Species Act.  

Less than 6% of plastic in the U.S. is recycled, yet the plastics industry continues to tout recycling as a panacea while pushing new plastic products onto the market. Companies need to dramatically reduce the production and use of unnecessary single-use plastic, provide plastic-free choices, and develop systems that refill and reuse packaging and foodware. Elected officials must enact policies to ensure they do so. 

In February 2023, Oceana released the results of a nationwide poll that showed broad bipartisan concern about single-use plastics and support for reducing both the production and use of these products and increasing the use of reusable packaging and foodware. Included among the key findings:  

  • 83% of American voters are concerned about single-use plastic products 
  • 73% support a pause in building new plastic production facilities 
  • 82% support reducing the federal government’s use of single-use plastic 

Polling was conducted by the nonpartisan polling company Ipsos, which surveyed 1,000 American adults from across the U.S. in December 2022.  

To learn more about Oceana’s campaign to stop plastic pollution, please visit