June 25, the U.S. House of Representatives passed S. 756, the Save Our Seas Act of 2018, which amends the Marine Debris Act to revise the Marine Debris Program to require the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to work with other agencies to address land- and sea-based sources of marine debris and the Department of State and other agencies to promote international action to reduce the incidence of marine debris. The bill also revises the program by allowing NOAA to make sums available for assisting in the cleanup and response required by severe marine debris events.
Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska introduced the bill to the Senate March 29, 2017, where it passed unanimously Aug. 3, 2017. In the House, Reps. Don Young of Alaska, Suzanne Bonamici of Oregon and 43 other representatives cosponsored the bill. The amended legislation will have to be approved by the Senate before going to the president.
The American Chemistry Council (ACC), Washington, says the “important bipartisan legislation … focuses and directs the U.S. government’s help in addressing international marine debris and land-based waste management solutions in the places that need it the most.”
The association issued the following statement from Steve Russell, vice president of the ACC’s Plastic Division, supporting passage of the proposed legislation:
“As a longtime supporter and champion of this bicameral legislation, the American Chemistry Council commends the House passage of the ‘Save Our Seas Act’ and thanks the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee and all the sponsors and co-sponsors for their steadfast leadership. The ‘Save Our Seas Act,’ which reauthorizes the Marine Debris Act, includes provisions to further study land-based waste management solutions and causes of marine debris and provides increased investment and technical assistance to help expand waste management systems in rapidly industrializing nations. This important legislation will help direct waste management resources where they are most urgently needed.
“We strongly support the act’s focus on international cooperation as a key solution in addressing marine debris. Studies show that rapidly developing countries that lack basic waste collection and management account for a majority of trash entering our ocean.
“Legislation is one part of the answer. We and our members are working with governments, NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) and the private sector to deliver sustainable solutions to marine debris. Through our ‘Global Declaration,’ 75 plastics associations from 40 countries have launched 355 projects that address education, research, public policy, best practices, plastics recycling/recovery and plastic pellet containment.
“In May America’s plastic resin makers announced an ambitious goal: to recycle or recover all plastic packaging in the United States by 2040. Achieving a more circular economy for plastics will enable society to continue to harness plastics’ essential benefits, like enhancing the safety and sanitary packaging of food and personal care products, while helping to protect and restore the environment for future generations.
“We urge the Senate to bring this much-needed legislation to a swift floor vote.”