Plastics harm our health and destroy our planet

What's At Stake

Plastics are everywhere. They are littering our beaches, choking marine life, poisoning communities at the fence line of petrochemical facilities, leaching into our food and water supplies, and ending up in our bodies. They are also major contributors to climate change. As a result, plastics are destroying our planet and harming our health.  

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, global annual production of plastic and plastic waste has more than doubled in the last 20 years alongside ever-growing rates of plastic consumption. Continuing to manufacture and use plastics at anywhere close to the current scale will undermine our climate progress, threaten the health of all people – especially those on the frontlines of petrochemical manufacturing and disposal facilities, and contribute to the biodiversity crisis. 

The EPA has acknowledged the negative impact that plastic pollution has on our environment and on public health, with underserved and overburdened communities being hit the hardest. That is why it released its Draft National Strategy to Prevent Plastic Pollution and the agency is listening to public feedback.  

The EPA’s current draft strategy is a good step in recognizing the critical role that the U.S. plays in addressing the plastic pollution problem, however, it is far too limited and lacks the bold goals that are needed to truly address the climate, health, and biodiversity harms caused by plastics across their lifecycle.  

Unfortunately, this draft fails to address the serious climate impacts of producing plastics, especially with the buildout of new and expanded facilities to make petrochemicals – chemicals made from oil and gas that are the building blocks of plastics and which oil and gas producers hope will create ongoing demand for their climate-harming products as we shift to renewable sources of energy. It understates the human health risks of plastics in the manufacturing process, the chemical additives used to produce plastics that leach out of the product and into our bodies, and our exposure and absorption of microplastics.  

This administration has made bold commitments on climate and environmental justice, but its draft strategy on plastics must be more ambitious to reach those goals. Join Earthjustice in urging the EPA to adopt a strategy that calls for the reduction and eventual phaseout of any non-essential manufacturing and use of plastics. 

Bottle caps are collected to be sent to a recycling factory for processing in Nakon Pathom, Thailand.
Plastic bottle caps. (Paula Bronstein / Getty Images)

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