Readers Write: Protect our communities from plastic pollution

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On Sept. 24, New Jersey passed the country’s strongest bill to reduce plastic waste, prohibiting the sale of single-use plastic bags and polystyrene and limiting the availability of plastic straws. If we’re New York Tough, we should up the ante.

Plastic pollution is a major public health threat in both our states: a 2016 report found nearly 166 million pieces of microplastics, known to contain chemicals harmful to marine and human health, floating in our waterways.

Highly toxic PFAS chemicals, used in plastic manufacturing, were discovered in drinking water sites across Long Island just last year. The production and burning of plastic also contribute significantly to our climate crisis.

We can’t recycle our way out of this problem; less than 10 percent of plastic in the US is effectively recycled after disposal.

Thankfully, New York has taken initiative by banning polystyrene and plastic bags. But we can, and should, do more. The Break Free From Plastic Act of 2020 would establish better recycling standards, require producers to take responsibility for waste, phase out a variety of single-use plastics, and pause permits for manufacturing facilities that haven’t complied with pollution regulations.

Long Island’s Congressional Delegation and Senators Schumer and Gillibrand should support and sponsor the Break Free From Plastic Act (H.R. 5845 and S. 3263) to protect our communities and environment today.

Emily Sanders
Port Washington

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