Letter to the Editor: Biden could be first plastic-free president

It is fortunate for our coasts and oceans nationwide that our incoming president has undoubtedly enjoyed the benefits of Delaware’s beautiful beaches. At Surfrider Foundation, we hope President-elect Joe Biden’s experience will translate into action to protect our oceans, waves and beaches from plastic pollution.

Long before we knew who the next president would be, environmental groups launched an effort called #PlasticFreePresident, spelling out what our nation’s chief executive could do to address the growing plastic pollution problem without legislative action.

Mind you, there is great legislation in the works in Congress. The Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act would be a great step in addressing plastic pollution. But if Congress does not act, we have a plan, and that is #PlasticFreePresident.

More than 550 environmental groups have signed on to the plan, for which the Surfrider Foundation was a convening partner under the leadership of the Center for Biological Diversity.

The plan focuses on eight steps the new president could take to reduce single-use plastic pollution:

Use the purchasing power of the federal government to eliminate single-use plastic items and replace them with reusable products.

• Suspend and deny permits for new or expanded plastic-production facilities, associated infrastructure projects and exports.

• Make corporate polluters pay and reject false solutions.

• Advance environmental justice in petrochemical corridors.

• Update existing federal regulations using the best available science and technology to curtail pollution from plastic facilities.

• Stop subsidizing plastic producers.

• Join international efforts to address the global plastic pollution crisis through new and strengthened multilateral agreements.

• Reduce and mitigate the impacts of abandoned, discarded and lost fishing gear.

We urge President-elect Biden to become the first #PlasticFreePresident and implement these actions right away. Our beaches are choking with plastics already, and increased production of single-use plastics is already planned.

You can read about these steps in more detail at plasticfreepresident.org.

John Weber
Mid-Atlantic regional manager
Surfrider Foundation
Bradley Beach, New Jersey