SEATTLE (Waste Advantage): U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley says he is counting on state efforts, like those in Oregon and Maine, to build the case for his federal legislation to compel plastics manufacturers to contribute to the cost of reducing, reusing or recycling materials. The Oregon Democrat was flanked by state legislators and environmental advocates — and two displays of single-use plastic water bottles, which the Oregon Zoo banned three years ago — during a presentation at the zoo in Portland.
Senate Bill 582, which cleared the Oregon Legislature on June 25, awaits the signature of Gov. Kate Brown. Maine Gov. Janet Mills signed a similar bill into law on July 13. Though they differ on some details, both bills will require manufacturers to pay part of the cost of recycling consumer packaging — or find ways to reduce or reuse that material. “Once again, Oregon and Maine are leading the way,” Merkley said at a July 23 event at the zoo. “Now those producers are going to double down and try and stop other states.
“But if other states follow Oregon’s lead, which is going to take a lot of citizen action, then they will start to say we would rather have a national bill, rather than a patchwork across this country because of the complexity and expense of dealing with multiple states. We probably need another six to eight states to join them before national producers will say give us something else.”
In addition to littering roads, beaches and oceans, Merkley said plastics are consumed not only by animals but by humans, who according to a 2019 study ingest about 5 grams every week — the equivalent of a credit card. “It would not be good for my health,” Merkley said as he held up a card. “Yet we are all doing this as a result of plastics permeating our environment.”