Statement: Sen. Udall Introduces “Plastic Pellet Free Waters Act”

Bill aims to protect wildlife, wild places, and public health
For Immediate Release

Washington, D.C.  -- In an effort to protect wildlife and wild places across the United States, Senator Tom Udall introduced The Plastic Pellet Free Waters Act on Thursday. The Act would help keep our oceans free of plastic pellets. Researchers estimate that every year 9,200 truckloads of these plastic pellets -- which are called “nurdles” and used as the building blocks for most plastic products -- are dumped into our oceans. Unfortunately, the ships and plastic production facilities responsible currently face no legal consequences. 

Studies show that these nurdles harm our wildlife, pollute our beaches, and threaten public health. In 2018, a spill of plastic pellets left a Texas beach coated. Animals, such as seabirds, often mistake plastic pellets for food, which blocks their digestive tracts and prevents them from ingesting healthful, nutritious food. Moreover, these spilled pellets can wind up in the food we eat and negatively impact our health, as nurdles can attract harmful toxic chemicals.

The bill, which would require the Environmental Protection Administration prohibit the discharge of plastic pellets and other pre-production plastic into our waterways, would help keep our waterways clean, our beaches beautiful, and our wildlife healthy. 

Michaela Morris, oceans associate at Environment America, issued the following statement: 

“This zero-tolerance policy for plastic pellet pollution helps lay the foundation for a zero-waste world where we always choose wildlife over waste. The whales, dolphins, sea turtles and sea birds that call our oceans home deserve clean, plastic-free waters.”

Alex Truelove, U.S. PIRG’s Zero Waste Program director, issued the following statement:

“Carelessly spilling trillions of plastic pellets with no legal ramification into our oceans and waterways is inexcusable. Prohibiting their disposal is the least we can do. Both our human neighbors and our aquatic wildlife should enjoy water free of plastic pellets. This is a clear step in the right direction.”

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Environment America is a national network of 29 state environmental groups. Our staff work together for clean air, clean water, clean energy, wildlife and open spaces, and a livable climate. Our members across the United States put grassroots support behind our research and advocacy.

U.S. PIRG, the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups, is a consumer group that stands up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security, or our right to fully participate in our democratic society.

Environment America and U.S. PIRG are part of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to social change.