ACC and PLASTICS urge federal government agency to follow science

Well, the General Services Administration (GSA) asked for it. The agency, which buys a range of supplies and services for the federal government, sought public comment when it issued a notice in July of its intention to reduce the use of plastics. Now the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) and the American Chemistry Council (ACC) are talking about it. Both organizations have submitted comments to the GSA that point to the negative environmental effects and increased costs to taxpayers that a ban on the purchase of single-use plastics would cause.

To recap: the GSA said in its advance notice of proposed rule making published in the Federal Register on July 7, 2022, that it is seeking public comment “regarding the use of plastic consumed in both packaging and shipping, as well as other single-use plastics for which the agency contracts “. The rationale behind the initiative is an executive order signed by President Biden that calls for “vigorous climate action.”

In its comments, the CCA pointed to the unintended consequences of this proposal, including an increase in greenhouse gas emissions and the amount of materials going to landfills. Several studies – the most recent of which was by McKinsey & Co. – have shown that plastics have less of an impact on greenhouse gas emissions than most alternative materials, when you factor in an analysis complete life cycle. The ACA commentary also highlighted the role of plastic packaging in protecting and preserving food and, therefore, reducing food waste.

The initiative would also increase costs for the federal government. In its comments, PLASTICS cited numerous examples of the rule’s potential impact on consumers, businesses and the broader economy. “This proposal would be. . . cost taxpayers millions and millions of dollars,” Matt Seaholm, president and CEO of Plastics, said in a press release announcing the filing of comments.

The two organizations underscored their willingness to work with the Biden administration to find effective, science-based ways to build a circular economy.

“Our industry is investing billions of dollars to recycle more plastic waste in the United States,” Seaholm said. “We would welcome the opportunity to work with the administration to develop effective recycling solutions that reduce plastic waste through smart investments in infrastructure, technology and education.”

The ACC noted that members of its plastics division were among the first to set goals for all plastic packaging in the United States to be reused, recycled or recovered by 2040 and for all plastic packaging American plastics are recyclable or recoverable by 2030. will demand that industry, manufacturers, brands and retailers, recyclers and waste haulers, as well as citizens, communities, non-profit organizations, academics and federal, state and local governments, come together to support policies and programs to increase the supply of and demand for recycled materials and create the circular economy we all want,” said ACC.

The rule proposed by the GSA will not get us there, in the opinion of these organizations.