Open Letter to the Biden Administration on a Global Plastics Treaty
Putting a cap on plastic production is the only real way to stop plastic pollution in the US.
Dear President Biden,
We appreciate your leadership in securing a Global Oceans Treaty that creates a path to protecting 30% of our oceans by 2030. Winning the treaty was truly a historic moment, one of the greatest environmental achievements in history. Now we need your help to protect the planet from plastic pollution and lowering carbon emissions by supporting a strong Global Plastics Treaty.
At the end of May, delegates from around the world will convene in Paris for the second round of negotiations on a Global Plastics Treaty. While you have signaled support for this treaty, the US position is not yet strong enough. Currently, the US is not calling for a cap on plastic production – which is the only real way to stop plastic pollution. In 2021, the US only recycled a mere 5% of plastics produced. We will never be able to recycle our way out of the plastic pollution crisis we’ve created – this treaty must cap plastic production or it will not be successful. Similarly, the US must advocate for a legally binding treaty – not one that relies on countries to come up with their own plans for dealing with plastic waste. We’ve watched this method play out with the Paris Climate Agreement and to our extreme disappointment, it has not achieved a significant decrease in carbon dioxide emissions. You have the opportunity to do things differently this time around, and ensure a treaty that will have real impacts for frontline communities suffering the impacts of plastic pollution–and for the stability of the global climate upon which all life on Earth relies.
Plastics are polluting and harmful at every stage of their life cycle – from extraction to disposal. 99% of plastics come from fossil fuels; cutting plastic production will make a significant dent in carbon emissions. There are communities living next to refineries and petrochemical facilities who are bearing the combined brunt of the climate and plastic crises. People living near these facilities–overwhelmingly people of color–face higher rates of cancer, asthma, and adverse birth outcomes. No human life is disposable and their lives cannot continue to be harmed for the sake of unnecessary plastics. The recent chemical disasters in East Palestine, Ohio and Bucks County, Pennsylvania provide further evidence of why our continued reliance on plastics are harming our health and communities.
President Biden, you have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help our climate, our oceans, and our communities this year by supporting a strong and ambitious Global Plastics Treaty. Recent polling shows that most voters are concerned about plastic pollution and its impact on our oceans and environment. We know you care about this issue and we were encouraged to see the initial steps you took in March by setting a goal to replace 90% of plastics with biomaterials, but this is not a real, lasting solution. Focusing on bioplastics and recycling would not address the root cause of the plastic pollution problem: we need to stop producing single-use plastics and switch to refill and reuse systems.
The decision you make on this critical issue will help define your legacy – will you be the President who helped put an end to the plastic pollution crisis, or someone who let it spiral further out of control? We’re calling on you to do the right thing.
Ebony Twilley Martin, Executive Director, Greenpeace USA
Rosanna Arquette, Actor and Activist
Alec Baldwin, Actor and Activist
Ed Begley, Actor and Activist
Camila Cabello, Singer and Songwriter
James Cromwell, Actor and Activist
Ted Danson, Actor
Rosario Dawson, Producer, Designer and Activist
Laura Dern, Actor
Billy Eichner, Actor, Writer and Producer
Shepard Fairey, Artist and Activist
Jane Fonda, Actor and Activist
Peter Gallagher, Actor
Katherine Langford, Actor and Advocate
Kate Mara, Actress
Rooney Mara, Actress
Adam McKay, Filmmaker
Jason Momoa, Actor, Entrepreneur and Activist
Richa Moorjani, Actor and Activist
Piper Perabo, Actor
Joaquin Phoenix, Actor
June Diane Raphael, Actor
Susan Sarandon, Mother, Activist and Actress
Taylor Schilling, Actress
Kyra Sedgwick, Director and Actor
William Shatner, Actor
Mary Steenburgen, Actor
Amber Valletta, Model, Actress and Activist
Shailene Woodley, Actor and Advocate
Bonnie Wright, Actor and Author