Rep. Stevens Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Combat Plastic Waste Crisis

April 22, 2021
Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, Reps. Haley Stevens (MI-11), the Chairwoman of the House Science Subcommittee on Research and Technology, and Anthony Gonzalez (OH-16) introduced bipartisan legislation to reduce plastic waste and improve the global competitiveness of the United States plastics recycling industry. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK) are both original cosponsors of the legislation. 

The Plastic Waste Reduction and Recycling Research Act directs the establishment of a plastic waste reduction and recycling research and development program, calls on the Federal government to develop a strategic plan for plastic waste reduction, and calls for the development of standards for plastics recycling technologies.

We can no longer deny that we face a plastic waste crisis,” said Congresswoman Stevens (D-MI). “In 2018, the U.S. woke up to the fragile predicament of our plastic waste management system. No longer able to ship our plastic waste to international markets, U.S. cities were forced to cut recycling programs. Instead, they had to resort to incinerating recyclables or tossing them in landfills. There are plenty of reasons for why and how we got here; however, a major factor is because we failed as a nation to invest in domestic recycling infrastructure and policies to account for the growing use of plastic. As a result, today, the U.S. recycles just 9% of its plastic waste. The Plastic Waste Reduction and Recycling Act will help develop a world-leading U.S. industry in improved plastics recycling technologies, and unleash the innovative potential of our nation to address our plastic waste crisis and generate greater value from the plastics we do produce.”

“Today, on Earth Day, with the introduction of Chairwoman Stevens’ ‘Plastic Waste Reduction and Recycling Research Act,’ of which I am a proud cosponsor, we are making a vital commitment in Congress to address plastic waste pollution with innovative research, science, and technology,” said Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX). “Plastics have become fundamental to almost all aspects of our lives and have enabled us to make great technological advances, but this progress comes at a cost. The extent of plastics pollution in our environment is becoming ever more apparent and alarming, and in America, we produce far more plastic waste than we can properly manage. This bill takes the critical action to step up our efforts to reduce, reuse, and recycle plastics through development of recycling standards, better technology, and smarter policies as we look to reduce plastic waste. As global leaders in science and technology, we must ensure we lead in finding innovative solutions to the plastic waste crisis if we want a more sustainable future.”


In December 2019, Congresswoman Stevens launched theCongressional Plastics Solutions Task Force, a coalition of lawmakers working together with state and local officials and industry representatives to facilitate investment in recycling technologies and promote education on plastics generation and recovery. As Chair of the Research & Technology Subcommittee, Congresswoman Stevens convened the first Science Committee hearing about recycling in a decade after hearing concerns about the long-term viability of local recycling programs in southeast Michigan.


The Plastic Waste Reduction and Recycling Research Act:

  • Directs the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy to establish a “Plastic Waste Reduction and Recycling Program.” The purpose of the program is to improve the global competitiveness of the United States plastics recycling industry, ensure U.S. leadership in plastics waste reduction and recycling research, ensure U.S. leadership in national and international standards development, and reduce any harmful effects of plastic waste on the environment.
  • Directs the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy to establish an interagency committee to coordinate the program and develop a strategic plan for plastic waste reduction and recycling and plastic waste remediation.
  • Directs the National Institute of Standards and Technologies to carry out research and provide the metrology basis for standards development for plastics recycling and related technologies, and to develop a clearinghouse to support dissemination of the tools, guidelines, and standards supported by the program.
  • Directs the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to support research and other activities on improved recycling technologies, plastic waste remediation, and the public health impacts of microplastics, among other topics.
  • Authorizes funding for 5 years and invests $85 million in fiscal year 2022 for these activities. Authorizes a 6.5% increase over the previous year’s authorization for each of fiscal years 2022, 2023, 2024, 2025 and 2026. 

Rep. Stevens first introduced the Plastic Waste Reduction and Recycling Act on June 16, 2020.