Several lawmakers have proposed legislation that would establish an excise tax on virgin plastics used to make single-use products. Known as the Rewarding Efforts to Decrease Unrecycled Contaminants in Ecosystems (REDUCE) Act, the proposed tax would begin at 10 cents per pound of virgin plastic in 2024, increasing to 15 cents per pound in 2025 and up to 20 cents in 2026.
The bill is sponsored by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Robert Menendez (D-NJ), in addition to 26 members of the House of Representatives.
Food and beverage companies use plastics produced through packaging used for products, food and beverage containers, and food service products (such as polystyrene foam containers) and, if passed, the legislation would have a large impact on these organizations.
Food and beverage manufacturers would need to replace plastic with solutions that can be recycled and are more environmentally friendly, and likely come with a higher price tag. The tax is intended to incentivize a switch to these alternative materials.
One part of the proposal would direct revenue from the virgin plastic fee into a fund that would promote plastic waste reduction and recycling activities, such as improving recycling infrastructure, carrying out marine debris reduction, detection, monitoring, and cleanup activities.