by Perry Wheeler,March 1, 2019 Washington, DC – As communities increasingly take action on the worsening plastic pollution crisis, the chemical and plastics industry and front groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) have stepped up efforts to protect corporate profits through mass-produced preemption bills meant to “ban plastic bans.” This year, new bills to prevent local action on plastic pollution have been introduced in North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Florida, and reintroduced in South Carolina, Utah, and Missouri.
“The industry is desperate to stop progress on plastic pollution,” said Greenpeace Plastics Campaigner Kate Melges. “These preemption bills–championed by ALEC, chemical and plastic industry lobbyists, and pro-pollution politicians–must be exposed and countered. Local communities should be able to tackle the plastic pollution crisis in their own cities and states without DC lobbyists parachuting into state capitals to shut them down.”
ALEC has worked side by side with the Plastics Industry Association and its front group, the American Progressive Bag Alliance (APBA), to push model legislation for legislators to introduce and champion nationwide. This preemption approach has been used to benefit corporations over local communities on other issues including the minimum wage, paid sick leave, and fracking. Statewide preemption laws currently prohibit 70 million Americans in 10 states from enacting bag ordinances to reduce plastic waste and pollution in their communities.
“As people continue to stand up and fight back against plastic pollution, the chemical and plastics industry will increasingly turn to dirty politics to maintain the status quo,” said Melges. “It’s up to all of us to call out corrupt politicians and replace them with legislators who represent the people, not corporate polluters. And as product companies start working to meet their pledges to reduce their single-use plastic packaging, they will need to take care to ensure the industry associations they support actually share their values.”