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May 12, 2023

EPA Holds Webinar on Draft National Strategy to Prevent Plastic Pollution

Lynn L. Bergeson Carla N. Hutton

On May 11, 2023, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a webinar on its Draft National Strategy to Prevent Plastic Pollution (Draft Strategy). As reported in our May 2, 2023, memorandum, EPA states in its April 21, 2023, press release that the Draft Strategy includes “ambitious actions to eliminate the release of plastic and other waste from land-based sources into the environment by 2040.” During the webinar, EPA provided an overview of the Draft Strategy and the key questions on which EPA seeks comment. Comments on the Draft Strategy are due June 16, 2023. According to EPA’s website, it recorded the webinar and will post it online “soon.”

The webinar included a question and answer (Q&A) period. EPA stated that it would answer questions only to clarify information and that substantive comments should be submitted to the docket. Questions included:

  • Can you please explain EPA’s thinking behind the new testing requirements for pyrolysis (or chemical recycling) facilities?
  • How does EPA expect to meet Objective A, reduce pollution during plastic production, without addressing toxic chemicals used in plastic production?
  • Given the ubiquity of chemical additives that are threats to human health, how will EPA ensure that the circular economy does not circulate toxic chemicals?
  • Will elimination of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in plastics be mandated?
  • There are 48 pages in the draft strategy and toxics shows up in three places. How does EPA expect to reach its goals without discussing toxics?

EPA suggested that these questions be submitted in written comments. In a few cases, EPA responded that the office that developed that portion of the Draft Strategy (presumably the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP)) was not on the webinar. EPA stated that it would like to hear about any additional actions that should be included in the Draft Strategy. When asked whether increasing consumer awareness includes labeling, EPA noted that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has requested public comment on potential updates to its Guides for Use of Environmental Marketing Claims (Green Guides) and suggested stakeholders submit comments to FTC. Although the comment deadline on the Green Guides has passed, as reported in our May 11, 2023, blog item, FTC will hold a May 23, 2023, workshop on “Talking Trash: Recyclable Claims and the Green Guides.” In conjunction with the workshop, FTC will accept additional public comment until June 13, 2023, to accommodate those who wish to provide input on the topics discussed at the event.