Washington – More than 180 community and conservation organizations filed a legal petition today requesting that the US government stop buying plastic bags and other individual plastic products. Supporting organizations include the Biodiversity Center, Sierra Club, Oceana, Surfrider and Greenpeace.
Americans use around 100 billion plastic bags a year, and it is estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the sea than fish. The federal government is the largest consumer of the world’s goods and services, and President Bidingen’s executive motions have highlighted the need for federal purchases to prioritize reusable products.
“Here is an opportunity for the Biden administration to do more to address this crisis than all the local plastic bags in the country combined,” said Emily Jeffers, the center attorney who received the petition. “The federal government’s tremendous spending power is critical to protecting our environment and health from plastic pollution. Biden officials must help stem the tide of single-use plastic that is polluting our oceans and poisoning wildlife and our own bodies.”
Today’s petition calls on the General Services Administration, the federal government’s procurement agency, to address the plastic pollution crisis by revising its regulations to ban purchases of single-use plastic products, with exceptions for disabled housing, medical use and personal protective equipment.
The fossil fuel industry plans to increase the plastic production By 40% over the next decade and plans to build eco-friendly crops in communities like Louisiana’s St. James Parish. Plastic production brings the climate crisis and harms local communities with toxic air and water pollution. Once discarded, plastic blocks rivers and oceans, harms wildlife, infiltrates drinking water and has existed in the environment for centuries.
Plastic is also a threat to human health. As people consume more and more food and drink from a single plastic wrapper and container, they are exposed to chemicals linked to many well-known public health crises, including obesity, ADHD and many forms of cancer.
General service administration concerns regulations for the acquisition and delivery of goods for federal agencies. The agency is required to purchase “sustainable products” but does not have requirements specific to plastic items.
It takes 1,000 years for a plastic bag to degrade in a landfill. The bags do not completely disintegrate, but decompose through light and become microplasty, which absorbs toxins and continues to pollute the environment.