Equilibrium & Sustainability

House Democrat offers bill to create tax on single-use plastics

Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday introduced legislation to create a tax on the sale of new plastic used in single-use products, which he is hoping to get included in Democrats’ $3.5 trillion social spending package.

Suozzi offered the legislation after Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) introduced a version of the bill in the Senate in August. 

“This bill with Senator Whitehouse is a commonsense way to create an economic incentive for businesses to use recycled plastic instead of creating more new plastic waste,” Suozzi said in a statement.

The legislation would create a tax on virgin plastic resin that would be paid by manufacturers, producers and importers. The tax would start at 10 cents per pound in 2022 and would gradually increase to 20 cents per pound in 2024. Revenue raised by the tax would go to a new fund that would pay for plastic waste reduction and recycling activities.

Companies would pay the tax for virgin plastic used for single-use products such as packaging and food-service products. Businesses would be able to get rebates for non-single use products and plastics used for medical and personal-hygiene products, according to Suozzi’s and Whitehouse’s offices.

The introduction of the bill comes as Democrats are working to determine how to pay for their priorities in the massive social spending package, which in part focuses on combating climate change.

A single-use plastics tax wasn’t included in the bill that the House Ways and Means Committee approved earlier in September. However, a document circulated earlier this month listing revenue-raising options under consideration by the Senate Finance Committee included a 20 cents per pound excise tax on sales of virgin plastic.

The measure from Suozzi and Whitehouse has the support of a number of environmental groups, which said in a letter to the chairmen of Congress’s tax committees earlier this month that it “will level the economic playing field between virgin and recycled plastic, incentivize reuse and recycling of plastic, and will raise revenue to invest in needed recycling and waste management infrastructure.”

But it has generated strong opposition from the plastics industry, which argues that the tax would hurt middle-class households and lead to an increase in waste.

Tags Sheldon Whitehouse single-use plastic Single-use plastics Thomas Suozzi virgin plastic

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