Greenpeace Unveils Monument Highlighting Biden Administration’s “Plastics Legacy”

March 28, 2024

Advocates, experts urge support of Global Plastics Treaty amid growing health and pollution concerns.

Tim Aubry

WASHINGTON, DC  (March 28, 2024) – Ahead of the fourth round of negotiations on a Global Plastics Treaty, Greenpeace today unveiled a new monument dedicated to the Biden administration and its potential plastic legacy. 

Photos are available in the Greenpeace Media library

The 15-foot monument, “Biden’s Plastic Legacy,” is modeled after the figure in Greek mythology, Atlas, who carries the world on his shoulders. The new monument depicts a world full of plastic pollution and its impacts on human health that U.S. President Joe Biden will carry on his shoulders if he does not show strong leadership. In the treaty negotiations, the US currently stands in the way of health protections by closely aligning with the fossil fuel industry that continues to produce plastics that harm human health.

A 2022 Greenpeace USA report shone a spotlight on the depth of the nation’s plastic problem. More than 51M tons of plastic wrappers, bottles, and bags were discarded in 2021. Roughly, 95% of that plastic ended up in landfills, oceans or scattered in the atmosphere in tiny toxic particles, the report found. 

More than 3,200 identified chemicals found in plastics have been associated with severe health concerns, including cancer, nervous system disorders, and hormonal imbalances. These chemicals have been implicated in the development of diseases such as cancer, heart conditions, and obesity.

Last February, during the first round of global treaty talks, President Biden acknowledged a need to end plastics pollution by 2040. But so far the U.S. government regulation has sided with large oil and gas industries — some of the biggest plastics producers — instead of working to cap their production. 

As plastic pollutants continue to pose a significant threat to human health and the environment, the monument aims to urge the Biden administration to support a robust Global Plastics Treaty that will reduce plastic production by 75%. 

Greenpeace Campaigner Kate Melges said: “Plastic pollution is everywhere, impacting every aspect of our lives. It affects our health, harms our communities, and fuels the climate crisis. The Global Plastics Treaty is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a cleaner, safer planet. President Biden must rise to this moment by supporting a strong Plastics Treaty that prioritizes human health, cuts production, and ensures a just transition for workers and communities.”

The unveiling ceremony, which took place on Capitol Grounds in Washington, DC, included speakers such as Dr. Leo Trasande, a respected doctor who has extensively researched the health risks of plastic. Trasande provided insights into the human health impacts of plastic pollution. Another speaker, Jo Banner, resident of Louisiana’s Cancer Alley and Co-Director of an environmental justice advocacy organization, the Descendants Project, addressed the impacts of plastic pollution in frontline communities. 

Dr. Trasande said: “The chemicals found in plastics cost our economy hundreds of billions of dollars because of increases in disease and disability. The easiest way to stop these diseases is to address plastic production, and a strong global treaty is essential, for people here in the U.S. and around the world.”

Banner said: “The communities of color that live among the plastic manufacturers are first in line for the toxic mix of pollution they produce. Our health, bodies, and communities matter. We refuse to be treated as a mere checkmark on a list of concerns, and we cannot continue to be sacrificial zones.  We need President Biden to truly listen to our needs and help create a strong Global Plastics Treaty that protects communities like ours. We must ensure that “Cancer Alley” is confined to the past, not a part of the future we gift our children.” 

Greenpeace and 22 other organizations, including the Descendants Project, recently sent a letter to President Biden requesting a meeting to discuss the interests of people most impacted by the ACC’s members and their toxic pollution. 

Greenpeace Oceans Director John Hocevar said: “President Biden has the chance to cement a lasting legacy: He can be the President who put an end to the plastic pollution crisis, or he can be the one who let it spiral out of control. We’re calling on him to stand up to plastic polluters like Exxon and Dow and put us on a greener and healthier path.”

The monument will remain in place throughout the day after the unveiling ceremony.

For more information about the monument unveiling and Greenpeace USA’s Plastics campaign, please visit Greenpeace USA’s website.


Contact: Gigi Singh, Greenpeace USA Campaign Communication Manager, [email protected], (631) 404-9977

Greenpeace USA is part of a global network of independent campaigning organizations that use peaceful protest and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and promote solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future. Greenpeace USA is committed to transforming the country’s unjust social, environmental, and economic systems from the ground up to address the climate crisis, advance racial justice, and build an economy that puts people first. Learn more at   

We Need Your Voice. Join Us!

Want to learn more about tax-deductible giving, donating stock and estate planning?

Visit Greenpeace Fund, a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) charitable entity created to increase public awareness and understanding of environmental issues through research, the media and educational programs.