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New Survey Shows Bipartisan Support Against Plastic Pollution

by Rudy Sanchez on 01/28/2021 | 2 Minute Read

A new survey of bipartisan voters in Colorado, Florida, Maine, and Washington shows strong support from a broad base of constituents. Participants indicated that they were in favor of reducing plastic pollution, improving recycling rates, and holding manufacturers more accountable for the packaging and end-of-life of their products, according to Break Free From Plastic, a nonprofit organization.

Nearly 3-in-4 surveyed (73%) expressed support for legislation that improved recycling. Of those, 62% would be more inclined to support a proposal if it also required manufacturers to take responsibility for packaging (you can read more about EPRs here).

"These findings are completely consistent with the multitude of other public opinion polls that have all shown the same thing: the public is sick and tired of plastic pollution, and they want manufacturers to take responsibility for recycling the items that they make," said Nick Lapis, director of advocacy at Californians Against Waste, in a press release. "It's time for policymakers and brands to get serious about reversing the out-of-control growth of wasteful packaging and disposable items."

Over two-thirds of voters in favor of improving recycling would support legislation that prevents domestic recyclables from being dumped overseas. 

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"U.S. companies are smuggling waste plastic inside [the] waste paper that we import, and, because we don't have a good recycling system here, people often wind up burning the plastic," said Prigi Arisandi, executive director of ECOTON, an Indonesian-based environmental advocacy group, in the same release. "Developed countries should treat and recycle their own waste in their countries. We demand the governments of exporting countries clean up the piles of plastic scraps that are being dumped in our rivers and drinking water sources for more than five million people."

A majority of people (57%) surveyed say they support a statewide ban on foam takeout containers made from expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam, with only 26% showed opposition.

"Foam food ware is pervasive in the marine environment. When released into the environment, intentionally or accidentally, it is carried from streets and through storm drains out to the ocean where it breaks down into smaller pieces and gets harder and more expensive to clean up," Jennie Romer, legal associate for the Surfrider Foundation's Plastic Pollution Initiative, said. "As a result of its very low economic value to recyclers, in addition to food residue contamination, foam food ware is rarely recycled and instead is sent to landfills or incinerated."

This latest survey shows rare common ground in an American political environment currently known for deep fissures on existential issues such as environmental regulations.

"This survey shows that bipartisan support exists for legislation to address many of our concerns about the impacts of our plastic waste," said Alex Truelove, zero waste director for U.S. PIRG, a federation of independent, state-based, citizen-funded Public Interest Research Groups. "That 89% of Democrats and 62% of Republicans surveyed say they support a law to reduce plastic pollution, while 90% of Democrats and 68% of Republicans support passing laws to protect the ocean is highly encouraging. Hopefully, our decision-makers will agree."