Water Filters Needed to Protect U.S. Communities from Lead & Plastic Pollution

Water filter distribution is critical to provide safe, clean drinking water to U.S. communities during water crises without causing massive amounts of plastic pollution. 

Aging infrastructure, natural disasters, toxic contaminants, and a severe lack of funding are just some of the crises U.S. water systems are facing that result in unsafe water for disproportionately Black, Brown, and low-income communities. Without a reliable clean water source, many families have turned to purchasing single-use plastic water bottles for cooking, washing, and drinking in the hopes of protecting their children and family members from polluted water. 

However, single use-plastic water bottles are an expensive additional financial cost to families, and filtered tap water is far more affordable. This, in addition to the harmful health costs of consuming water from plastic bottles that can release nano & microplastics into the water, along with toxic plastic additive chemicals. Filters, not bottles, can provide a safe, affordable water solution, especially during the U.S. lead service line replacement. 

Filtered Not Bottled Water Could Prevent the Use of Hundreds of Billions of Single-Use Plastic Bottles

Water systems must implement a “filter first” strategy, providing a filter certified to remove lead to impacted households to provide an immediate safe water source. World health experts agree there is no safe level of lead exposure, especially for children who can face irreversible health consequences from even low levels of exposure. While there have been significant advancements in recent years on lead service line replacement (LSLR), it will still be 10 years before many cities replace their last lead line, and over 40 years for cities like Chicago to have clean drinking water. 

Providing filters to families impacted by lead service line replacement in the U.S. could provide an immediate clean water source while preventing the use of hundreds of billions of single-use plastic bottles over the course of the project. Supplying the 22 million impacted people in the United States with single-use plastic water bottles for just six months would require over 32 billion water bottles. Ensuring expedient distribution of filters and proper education is critical to provide families with safe, clean drinking water as soon as possible without polluting single-use plastics. 

EPA Lead and Copper Rule Improvement Must Go Further with Filters

On November 30, 2023, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the Draft Lead and Copper Rule Improvement (LCRI), a strengthened version of the Lead and Copper Rule created to control lead and copper in drinking water. As strongly recommended by Plastic Pollution Coalition, the drafted rule requires water systems with consistently high levels of lead to make available filters certified to remove lead from water, rather than single-use water bottles. This is a significant step forward. However, the draft language on filters does not go far enough to provide clean water to impacted communities. The LCRI draft must be strengthened to:

  1. Require water systems to fund the purchase and distribution of filters to customers.
  2. Require water systems to provide in-depth education materials and training on filter efficacy, and filter use and maintenance. 
  3. Reduce the number of lead action level exceedances and time period required in order to mandate filter distribution, as well as the time for filter program implementation.

Water systems must actively distribute water filters to lead-impacted homes. “Making filters available” as currently mandated in the draft LCRI is simply not enough. Education materials and training must also be provided on filter efficacy and filter use and maintenance. Community trust in water filters and accurate servicing of the filter is critical to ensure families don’t turn to costly polluting single-use plastic water bottles or improperly use the filters, resulting in exposure to unsafe water contaminants. Proper distribution and education is critical to ensuring customers can access, trust, and properly use their filter, as seen in Denver, Colorado where, with advanced distribution and education measures, Denver achieved 80% filter adoption rates

The EPA must also minimize the period that families must wait for a filter by reducing the time and number of lead level exceedances required to constitute “consistently high levels of lead” and expedite filter program implementation as any amount of lead exposure is unsafe. A “filter first” approach will ensure families have access to clean, safe drinking water in the many years to come as the LCRI is implemented and lead service lines are replaced. 

Additional Measures Must Be Taken

Additionally, Plastic Pollution Coalition, along with Beyond Plastics, calls on EPA to provide recommendations for safe replacement pipe materials such as recycled copper and stainless steel, and advise against dangerous alternatives such as PVC and CPVC plastic pipes, which introduce another source of plastic pollution into peoples’ lives. These materials are an environmental injustice nightmare, as evidenced by the derailment of a train carrying vinyl chloride almost one year ago in East Palestine, Ohio, and can leach dangerous contaminants into the water they transport such as vinyl chloride and microplastics. 

We also support calls for EPA to reduce the lead action level from 10 to 5 ppb and require water systems to pay for full service line replacement. This is a critical opportunity for EPA to increase clean water access without the distribution and pollution of toxic plastic bottles and pipes.

Take Action

Sign the petition to urge the EPA to strengthen the proposed LCRI language on filter distribution and ensure families have access to safe water without toxic lead or plastic pollution!

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On December 19, the city council of Oakland, California, passed a comprehensive new reusable foodware policy that is good for people, the planet, and small businesses. By requiring reusable foodware and beverage systems to exist at eateries, municipal facilities, and large events throughout the city, the policy works to address the urgent interconnected crises of plastic pollution, mass consumerism, and climate change. The policy was authored by Councilmember Dan Kalb, co-sponsored by Councilmember Noel Gallo, and supported by Reusable Oakland, a coalition of 19 local environmental organizations and businesses.

With this new law, Oakland joins the City of Berkeley, which enacted the world’s first reusable foodware policy in 2019, and the 27 local jurisdictions in North America have enacted similar policies since, according to the Story of Stuff Project.

The City of Oakland has taken bold action to change a throwaway economy that extracts limited natural resources and uses polluting industrial processes to make products consumed in minutes that instantly become trash. Serving food and beverages in reusables is a triple play: it’s a climate and plastic pollution solution, it saves Bay Area businesses an average of $4,000 per year, and reduces government costs of litter cleanup and managing waste.

— Miriam Gordon, The Story of Stuff Project

Oakland Recognizes Benefits of Reuse Over Single-Use

Oakland’s new reusable policy will require food and drink establishments to provide reusable foodware—including plates, utensils, cups, and more—to people who dine in, and allow people to bring in their own clean and washed reusable foodware containers for to-go orders and leftovers. Additionally, the law will prohibit the sale of plastic water bottles and any packaged water at city facilities, gatherings, and large events. Instead, the city will prioritize making water refill stations widely available. 

Importantly, the new legislation addresses single-use bioplastics—plastics made from highly processed plants like sugarcane and corn—and recognizes that these materials are not as environmentally friendly as they seem. Bioplastics are not a solution to plastic pollution: they do not benignly break down, often contain or are coated with hazardous chemicals, drive pollution and injustice, and perpetuate wasteful throwaway systems and single-use habits. Even where compost facilities exist to accept bioplastics, which are rather few and far between, organic plant growers in California and beyond have expressed that they are not interested in taking compost with toxic bioplastics in it as it harms soils.

Switching from single-use to reusables helps people and the planet, but it is also a smart business choice. Oakland’s new policy offers businesses the chance to save hundreds to thousands of dollars annually by eliminating the need to continue buying single-use food serviceware and significantly reducing businesses’ wastes to save on disposal costs. Moreover, businesses making the switch report improved customer experiences and increased customer loyalty.

The policy would be rolled out over a year so that businesses can phase out the current single-use products they have on hand. ReThink Disposable, a technical assistance program that helps food businesses implement best practices to reduce waste and cut costs by minimizing disposable product usage, has already helped 500 Bay Area businesses switch to reusables. The city says it will work with its partners to provide education to the public on what items are or are not in compliance with the ordinance. Grant opportunities will be made available for vendors in need of assistance adding extra dishwashing capacity if needed as they adopt reusable systems.

The Oakland reusable foodware ordinance is an exciting step forward for the Bay Area and for the reuse movement more broadly. Disposable food and beverage packaging clogs our streets, waterways, recycling facilities, and landfills. It costs taxpayer money to clean up, and poses serious social and environmental problems for communities. We applaud the Oakland City Council’s recognition that building reuse infrastructure will not only decrease the negative impacts of plastic pollution on our natural systems, but will also provide economic advantages for the majority of food businesses and event spaces as part of a larger shift towards a circular economy.

— Aidan Maguire, Coalition Manager, Plastic Pollution Coalition

Take Action

Do you work at or own a food or beverage establishment in Oakland, California? Reap the benefits of going reusable: Use our Plastic-Free Eateries Guide to help inform your decision making on what reusable choices are best for you. Once you’ve made the switch to reusables, join our Coalition to stay up-to-date on solutions and learn from other businesses who have joined our Coalition to commit to ending plastic pollution together. And if you’re an individual, take the pledge to say no to single-use plastic.

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As strongly recommended by Plastic Pollution Coalition and other leading experts and community advocates, on November 30 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) included in the newly drafted Lead and Copper Rule Improvement (LCRI) language that could mitigate the distribution and use of hundreds of billions of single-use plastic water bottles across the United States over the next 10 years. 

The LCRI strengthens the Lead and Copper Rule that was originally published in 1991 to control lead and copper in drinking water, and the Filtered Not Bottled campaign has been pushing for the inclusion of language to proactively recommend the distribution point-of-use filters to impacted households within the LCRI. The newly drafted rule requires water systems with consistently high levels of lead to make available to customers filters certified to remove lead from water, rather than single-use water bottles. This is a very significant step forward.

It is critical we do not allow additional serious pollutants to be introduced into the environment and our bodies while the U.S. addresses getting toxic lead out of our drinking water. Plastic pollutes at every stage of its existence. We are grateful the EPA draft rule will advance access to filters, which can provide families with a safer, sustainable clean water solution to protect them for many years to come, while also reducing the use of plastic bottled water.

— Julia Cohen, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Plastic Pollution Coalition

In the United States there are an estimated 12 million lead pipes, otherwise known as lead service lines, bringing water into the homes of 22 million or more people. There is no safe level of lead in drinking water, and exposure can result in cognitive delays, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. The Biden-Harris Administration had previously committed to removing 100% of lead service lines within the next 10 years. However, because there is no safe level of lead exposure, many communities are now facing the question of how to get clean drinking water while they wait up to a decade for their lead pipes to be replaced. One thing is clear: single-use plastic water bottles are not the solution.

The Problem with Single-Use Plastic Bottles

Single-use plastic water bottles, like all plastics and especially single-use plastics, pollute throughout their existence. Unfortunately, consumption of single-use plastic bottles continues to grow, with 3 million single-use bottles used per hour in the U.S.; most of these bottles are not recycled and end up in landfills, incinerators, or are shipped overseas, driving pollution and injustice. Unfortunately, government and aid agencies have historically provided communities facing water pollution from lead and other contaminants with single-use water bottles—a regrettable substitute and another form of pollution.

Single-use plastic bottles are not only a source of pollution at the end of their use, but also during their production, transportation, and consumption. Plastic production emits highly toxic chemicals into primarily poor, rural, and Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) communities. People living on the front lines of plastic production face a heightened risk of experiencing asthma, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Plastic bottles release toxic chemicals and microplastics into the water they hold, which in turn enters human bodies when consumed. Chemicals found in the water inside plastic bottles include hazardous heavy metals, including lead and antimony, and hormone disruptors, such as phthalates and bisphenols. 

Plastic Pollution Coalition has spent the last 14 years breaking the “myth” of single-use plastic bottles as a safe source of water and other beverages, exposing single-use bottles as pollution to communities, the environment, and the drinks they contain. We advocate for safe, simple solutions such as reusable, plastic-free bottles and water filters.

Filters, Not Bottles, as a Solution for Safe Drinking Water

In 2022, Plastic Pollution Coalition launched the Filtered Not Bottled campaign to call on the EPA and local governments to recommend and support distribution of filters to households impacted by lead pipes for use before, during, and up to 6 months after lead service line replacement.

Home water filters certified to remove lead are an economical, accessible, and healthy way to ensure families impacted by lead lines have access to clean water for drinking, cooking, and washing. Pitcher filters and replacement filters for one year can cost as low as $50, while single-use bottled water can cost $1,820–-$2,080 a year per person at $7.00–$8.00 per gallon and 5 gallons per person per week. Filters also drastically reduce plastic pollution that ends up in community waste infrastructure and in the surrounding environment. Supplying water to impacted communities for just 6 months could use as many as 32 billion single-use plastic water bottles. Filters, depending on the brand and model, can also reduce microplastics, chlorine, and other common water contaminants. 

In September of 2022, Plastic Pollution Coalition and other leading experts and community groups submitted a Letter to the EPA outlining our recommendations for filter distribution. Over the past year, we have attended meetings with the White House Center for Environmental Quality, EPA Office of Water, and leading federal elected officials, built relationships with impacted communities and local advocacy groups, distributed education materials, and increased public involvement with a petition and campaign letter to the EPA. We are pleased to see the EPA has utilized the Lead and Copper Rule Improvement draft to take an important step towards filter use and protecting impacted communities from lead and plastic pollution.

Where the LCRI Draft Rule Falls Short

The LCRI is a big win for Filtered Not Bottled and clean water across the country. However, the draft currently falls short on key measures that community groups, scientists, federal legislators, and leading advocacy organizations, such as Natural Resource Defense Council, have been calling for to best protect the impacted communities. We are hopeful the draft will be amended to include the following key measures:

  1. Reduce the lead action level to 5 parts per billion (ppb). While the proposed rule does reduce the lead action level from 15 ppb to 10 ppb, there is no safe level of lead in drinking water and reducing the action level to 5 is critical to protect communities.
  2. Require water systems to fund full lead service line replacement. The proposed rule must be amended to require water systems to not only fund the lead service line replacement on public property, as the current version states, but also the small portions of pipe on private property connecting the public systems to households and other infrastructure.
  3. Advise against toxic plastic pipes as the replacement pipe alternative. The draft rule failed to recommend safe pipe material for replacement and did not advise against plastic pipes associated with release of microplastic and chemicals into water, including PVC and PEX (as was recommended in the Letter to the EPA submitted September 2022 and in a recent report “The Perils of PVC Plastic Pipes” authored by Beyond Plastics and Plastic Pollution Coalition).

I applaud the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to require the removal of lead pipes used for drinking water nationwide, but EPA administrator Michael Regan needs to take that one step further and advise local governments not to replace lead service lines with PVC plastic pipes. Like all plastic, PVC and CPVC contain chemical additives—some toxic and many untested for toxicity—that can leach into our drinking water. The Biden administration must ensure we don’t leap from the frying pan into the fire by replacing lead pipes with another material that threatens public health, like PVC, especially when safe alternatives exist.

— Judith Enck, former EPA Regional Administrator and current Beyond Plastics President

The EPA will be accepting public comment on the proposed rule before it is finalized in October 2024, and will also be hosting an information webinar on December 6, 2023, and a virtual public hearing on January 16, 2024.

Take Action

Making pitcher filters available to the communities most impacted by lead is a big step forward for clean water free of lead and plastic pollution. Ultimately, it’s a move that will help communities impacted by lead pipes, as well as those where plastic is produced, transported, and disposed. 

Plastic Pollution Coalition, through its Filtered Not Bottled campaign, continues to advocate for safe, sustainable solutions to address polluted drinking water, without single-use plastic. While more work is needed to ensure this language is kept in the draft rule and improved along with other key measures, today we can celebrate a positive step forward!

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Last month, we were delighted to host many engaged participants who asked excellent questions during our September webinar, Policy Matters: Solutions for a Plastic Pollution Free U.S. During the webinar, we discussed what the Biden-Harris Administration is doing to address plastic pollution in the U.S., and what they could be doing better. 

We are grateful to our September panelists Jonathan Black, Joan Mooney, and Jane Patton, and moderator Christy Leavitt, who answered many of our participants’ questions during the webinar. However, we received so many questions that we ran out of time to get to them all. To shed more light, we are now taking the opportunity to address the top five unanswered questions that we received. Please note these are answers we at Plastic Pollution Coalition pulled together based on publicly available information, as our panelists were not able to provide written responses.

1. How is the United States Government (USG) addressing the need to address and disengage from greenwashed false solutions like mechanical plastics recycling and “advanced recycling” of plastics?

Many activities, organizations, and products associated with the plastics and petrochemical industries bear a green sheen without any substance behind it, or oversell their positive environmental impacts—this is “greenwashing.” Unfortunately, the USG has historically relied upon and supported industries’ greenwashed solutions, namely, mechanical recycling of plastics which has proven to be ineffective at stopping plastic pollution. Plastics were never designed to be recycled; in fact, they are created to be disposed of so that they can be purchased again and again—driving up plastic production, and as a result, profits. 

With the failure of mechanical recycling of plastic now more widely recognized than ever before, in an effort to continue profiting from plastics, the fossil fuel and plastics industries are promoting “advanced recycling” or “chemical recycling” to the USG. “Advanced recycling,” which involves chemically or physically burning plastic into more basic petrochemicals, is even worse for human health and the environment than making new plastic. “Advanced recycling” is associated with various types of serious pollution, environmental injustices, is energy intensive, and creates toxic wastes. Being a downstream treatment for plastics, it is certainly not a solution for preventing plastic pollution. 

Disengaging the USG from these and other greenwashed false solutions remains a major challenge. However, it is a critical time to push policymakers to address plastic pollution at the source. This means calling for an end to production of single-use plastics, which are easily replaced by less wasteful reusable and refillable materials, along with cutting the country’s reliance on fossil fuels in favor of healthier and more regenerative sources of energy.

2. Do the USG, institutions, corporations, and other entities recognize the need to sever their connections with the fossil fuel and plastics industries in order to end plastic pollution and the climate crisis?

Plastics are made of fossil fuels. And it’s clear we must stop using fossil fuels in order to end plastic pollution and the climate crisis. Historically, the USG has supported these industries by subsidizing and otherwise supporting and investing in their ongoing existence. This has caused serious harm to communities and the environment. The USG could support the systems we need by incentivizing strategies and systems that reduce wastefulness through reusing, refilling, repairing, sharing, regeneration, and refusing single-use.

As part of the United Nations (UN) Plastic Treaty negotiations, a High Ambition Coalition of countries chaired by Rwanda and Norway, have called for reduced plastic production along with reduced or eliminated subsidies for fossil fuels. Across the world, institutions—including governments and pension funds—are divesting from fossil fuel income to renewable, regenerative sources of energy and materials. These actions should be greatly expanded, especially in the U.S., where, by some estimates, American taxpayers collectively pay about $20 billion dollars per year to the fossil fuel industry.

3. How are U.S. State and Federal policymakers and agencies working to address their own plastic pollution?

As the representative models of our nation, U.S. State and Federal policymakers and agencies should demonstrate the solutions we need to embrace to end plastic pollution. People model the behaviors they see, as we know from our work with people working in entertainment to Flip the Script on Plastics. Seeing our representatives continue to drink from single-use plastic bottles or using plastic straws or utensils is not encouraging when we know both the harm caused by plastic and that there are better alternatives.

What is encouraging are the recent moves by U.S. State and Federal policymakers to model real solutions. In September 2023, Massachusetts became the first state to ban the purchase of single-use plastic bottles under 21 fluid ounces by state agencies. Last year, the Department of Interior committed to reducing and eventually phasing out the sale of single-use plastic products of all kinds in national parks, wildlife refuges, and other public lands, a commitment doubled down upon this year with the introduction of the Reducing Waste in National Parks Act.

4. How can corporations and industries be held accountable for their plastic pollution and its widespread harmful impacts on human health, the environment, social injustice, the climate, and wildlife?

Plastic production is the cause of plastic pollution. And the industries that extract fossil fuels and produce and sell plastic—as well as the corporations, investments, and other avenues of support these industries receive—should ultimately be held accountable for their actions. Extended producer responsibility (EPR) has been implemented in some U.S. states, such as Maine and Oregon, making plastic producers legally and financially responsible for taking action to limit the environmental and social impacts of their products. EPR policies are more widespread in other parts of the world, including in Canada and the European Union.

To date, much industry and corporate accountability for plastic pollution has had to be elicited in courtrooms. There has been some progress, with California’s government investigating the role of the fossil fuel and petrochemical industries in a “decades-long campaign of deception” about the harmful impacts of plastic pollution and in driving the plastic crisis. In Montana, a court has ruled in favor of youth plaintiffs who argued that the state of Montana has violated its constitution by aggressively pursuing fossil fuel development without regard to impacts to the climate. 

5. What is the USG doing to end the environmental injustices and social costs of plastic pollution and its toxic impacts, and support just, equitable solutions for those communities worst impacted? 

In the U.S., and around the world, poor, rural, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) have been, and continue to be, unfairly targeted to carry the burden of plastic pollution and other industrial hazards. People living in communities on the frontlines of plastic and other pollution have long called for action and accountability from corporations and governments driving pollution and injustice.

Some progress has finally been made as the USG has recently committed to addressing environmental injustices, establishing an advisory council, and offering grants to underserved communities, among other efforts. However, some of these opportunities for frontline communities have proven highly cumbersome to navigate, minimizing their benefits. Additionally, new USG efforts are falling short of changing in ways that work to significantly oust systemic racism from policies and practices that have long worked to exacerbate injustices. As a result, frontline communities have had to fight for their lives, bringing attention to disproportionate risks faced. Many have succeeded in calling out and starting to rectify injustice—but there is much work to do.

Despite a few significant steps forward, still, disappointingly, the policy landscape in the U.S. has historically favored industry interests over human health and environmental justice. For example, in June 2023, less than six months after the U.S. Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency filed a major federal complaint launching an investigation into a plastic factory’s violations of the Clean Air Act and environmental injustices in St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana, the investigation was abruptly closed. To date, the complaint and investigation have not been resolved—leaving the people on the frontlines who are worst impacted to continue shouldering a disproportionate pollution burden. 

Take Action

Last month, the UN released a Zero Draft, the earliest iteration of its Plastic Treaty, which it has set out to finalize by 2025. During our October 26 webinar, we will discuss the latest developments in the UN Plastics Treaty negotiations. Learn what Plastic Pollution Coalition members and allies are doing to shape the treaty and what you can do to take action to help. 

We need legislative and regulatory solutions that address the plastic pollution crisis at the source, reduce plastic production and use, center environmental justice, extend producer responsibility by holding corporations accountable, and create policies that support a regenerative circular society free of plastic pollution and its toxic impacts. Such policies are especially needed in the U.S., which is the world’s biggest plastic polluter as a country. With the UN Plastics Treaty now being negotiated, it’s critical that the USG takes a stronger stance on plastic pollution and engage in real solutions.

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In an effort to keep single-use plastics out of National Parks, U.S. Senator Jeff Merkeley (D-OR) and eleven Senate colleagues have introduced the Reducing Waste in National Parks Act. The proposed legislation would restore Obama-era guidance prohibiting the sale of single-use plastic water bottles in National Parks, as well as “the sale and distribution of other disposable plastic products to the greatest extent feasible.” Earlier this year, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (D-IL-05) introduced a companion bill also calling to end the sale of single-use plastic bottles in parks.

Under President Obama, a similar policy had prevented the sale of an estimated 1.3 and 2 million single-use plastic water bottles in National Parks. This policy was reversed by the Trump administration in 2017.

Plastic pollution threatens our right to live in healthy communities and ability to enjoy the beauty of our national parks. Single-use plastic production threatens our nation’s most special places, and inaction to protect these spaces is unacceptable if we want to ensure our treasured national parks are safeguarded for generations to come.

— Jeff Merkley, Senator, Oregon

The action by policymakers follows a campaign led by Oceana, which sent a letter from more than 300 organizations and petition signed by thousands of individuals urging U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to ban the sale of single-use plastics on America’s public lands in 2021. 

Each year, it’s estimated that the National Parks Service has to manage about 70 million pounds of wasteful trash—that’s 155 times the weight of the Statue of Liberty. 

Eliminating single-use water bottle sales at National Parks can make a significant impact in reducing pollution in and around the parks, and also reinforce reuse and refill among the public and employees who visit and work in the parks.

Many aquariums and zoos ironically have stronger policies than National Parks to minimize the sale and distribution of single-use plastic items to protect animals and the artificial environments. It is essential that we also prioritize protecting the natural living wetlands, beaches, mangroves, grasslands, and forests protecting our parks’ wildlife and pristine places. There is no place for plastic in our National Parks, and with the introduction of “Reducing Waste in National Parks Act,” one source of plastic pollution—sale and distribution of single-use plastic items to visitors—will be significantly reduced.

— Jackie Nuñez, Plastic Pollution Coalition Advocacy and Engagement Manager

Take Action

With a United Nations Plastic Treaty now on the table, it’s important to tell the world’s biggest plastic polluter, the United States, to take a stronger stance on what could be a global, legally binding agreement. Make your voice heard, and help advocate for real solutions. 

September 19, 2023 , 5:00 pm 6:00 pm EDT

Plastic pollution is an urgent threat to the climate, human health, communities, the environment, and wildlife. With industries set to triple their plastic production by 2060, public support for policies to reduce plastic pollution is growing across the world. From implementing bag bans and fees on single-use plastics, to rules that strengthen regulations on industrial polluters, communities and policymakers are using many strategies to address the growing plastic pollution crisis. Plastic pollution ultimately needs to be stopped at the source, and encouragingly, leaders in the United States are working to develop policy solutions that do just that. Bills like the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act and Reducing Waste in National Parks Act are legislative solutions intended to reduce and prevent single-use plastic and plastic’s many forms of pollution from impacting our climate, communities, waterways, and natural wonders.

During our September 19 webinar, we will discuss policy solutions for addressing plastic pollution in the United States. Learn about what the Biden Administration is doing from Jonathan Black, Senior Director for Chemical Safety and Plastic Pollution Prevention at the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Also joining will be Joan Mooney, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy Management and Budget for the U.S. Department of the Interior; and Jane Patton, U.S. Fossil Economy Campaign Manager at the Center for International Environmental Law. The conversation will be moderated by Christy Leavitt, Campaign Director for Oceana. 

Date: Tues., September 19
Time: 2-3 pm PT | 5-6 pm ET
Click here to convert to your timezone.


PANELISTS

Jonathan Black

Jonathan Black (he/him) is the Senior Director for Chemical Safety and Plastic Pollution Prevention at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, a component of the Executive Office of the President. He previously served as a Special Assistant to the President & Senate Legislative Liaison from January 2021 to October 2022 where he worked on some of President Biden’s signature legislative achievements, like the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act. Prior to that, Jonathan served nearly 20 years in the U.S. Senate working on energy and environmental issues, including chemical safety and plastic pollution issues. He was a Senior Policy Advisor for Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) and a Senior Professional Staff Member on the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources for Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM). He is originally from Long Island, New York.


Joan Mooney

Joan Mooney is the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy Management and Budget for the U.S. Department of the Interior. She most recently was President and CEO of The Faith & Politics Institute, working closely with lawmakers, federal officials, and Board Chair Emeritus Congressman John Lewis at the intersection of their values and public service to advance productive discourse and constructive collaboration. Mooney served as Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs for Congressional and Legislative Affairs, leading efforts to secure significant increases in agency funding, and as Chief of Staff and Budget Associate for a western Oregon member of Congress. She has degrees from George Mason University and the University of Pennsylvania.

Jane Patton

Jane Patton (she/her) is the U.S. Fossil Economy Campaign Manager at the Center for International Environmental Law. Since 2016, Jane’s work has focused on organizing and coordinating groups around the world and in her home state of Louisiana in the fight against petrochemical pollution, plastics, and carbon capture and storage. You can find the latest on CIEL’s plastics policy work here.


MODERATOR

Christy Leavitt

Christy Leavitt (she/her) is Oceana’s Plastics Campaign Director, overseeing the organization’s U.S. initiatives to address the plastic pollution crisis and curb its devastating impacts on our oceans, climate, and communities. In this role, Christy leads Oceana’s policy experts, scientists, and field team in advocating for federal, state, and local government policies that reduce the production and use of single-use plastics. Under her leadership, Oceana has campaigned to pass more than a dozen state laws and 60 local plastic reduction policies. She has testified before Congressional and state committees and been quoted in numerous news outlets. This fall she will be featured in a new PBS documentary called “We’re All Plastic People Now” about the pervasiveness of plastic pollution in our lives. Christy has advocated and organized for strong environmental policies for more than two decades. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American Studies from Occidental College.


RESOURCES