Congress Introduces Bill to Reduce Single-Use Plastic and Promote Reuse and Refill - Oceana USA

Congress Introduces Bill to Reduce Single-Use Plastic and Promote Reuse and Refill

Following the lead of many states, federal lawmakers introduce bill to curb plastic pollution

Press Release Date: October 25, 2023

Location: Washington


Megan Jordan | email: | tel: 202.868.4061

Today, Sen. Jeff Merkley, Ore., and Rep. Jared Huffman, Calif. reintroduced the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act aimed at reducing plastic pollution at the source. This comprehensive federal bill would continue the momentum initiated by cities, counties, and states across the United States that have already passed policies regulating single-use plastic. 

“We’re at a crisis point with plastic pollution and need action. Plastic pollution harms our oceans, climate, communities, and wildlife. The solution is to stop plastic pollution at the source by reducing the production and use of unnecessary single-use plastic and move to refillable and reusable systems. The Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act does just that,” said Christy Leavitt, Oceana campaign director. “We applaud Senator Merkley, Congressman Huffman, and their colleagues for introducing this important bill. Cities and states have been leading the way on plastic reduction policies, and it’s time for federal action so we can turn the tide on plastic pollution before it’s too late.”   

The Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act would phase out unnecessary single-use plastic products, including plastic foam food containers; protect fenceline communities by putting a moratorium on new plastic facilities; stop the discharge of plastic pellets into rivers, lakes, and coastal waters; and ensure cities and states have the ability to continue their progress in combatting single-use plastic pollution. Not only would the bill reduce the production and use of single-use plastic in the United States, but it would also support reuse and refill systems, limit the amount of plastic waste exported to other countries, and put the onus of managing plastic waste on the companies producing it.

In a national poll conducted by Oceana, 83% of American voters are concerned about single-use plastic products and 84% support increasing the use of reusable packaging and foodware. Additionally, 73% of voters do not want new plastic production facilities and 82% support protecting people in neighborhoods affected by pollution from nearby plastic production facilities.

Scientists estimate that 33 billion pounds of plastic wash into the ocean every year. That equates to about two garbage trucks’ worth of plastic entering the ocean every minute. 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.

Oceana says that recycling alone will not solve this problem. 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. Oceana campaigns to stop plastic pollution at the source — by working to pass local, state, and national policies that reduce the production and use of unnecessary single-use plastic and move toward refill and reuse systems.

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