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For Immediate Release


Melissa Valliant, 410.829.0726, 
Dustin Cranor, 954.348.1314, 

Press Release

8 in 10 American Voters Support National Action to Reduce Single-Use Plastic

Oceana Releases New Poll, Calls on Congress to Pass Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act

Today, Oceana released the results of a new nationwide poll revealing that 81% of American voters support national, state, and local policies that reduce single-use plastic. The vast majority of registered voters reported being concerned about plastic pollution, and there is widespread bipartisan support for policies that reduce the use of single-use plastic products, including plastic bags, foam foodware, takeout containers, and packaging from online shopping.

“Americans have spoken: They are worried about the unnecessary plastic choking our oceans and want real policy change on the national level — so we need lawmakers to enact policies that actually stop pollution at the source,” said Christy Leavitt, Oceana’s plastics campaign director. “The good news is the U.S. already has the blueprint for change. Americans are counting on their leaders to reduce the use of single-use plastic, and the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act would do just that by phasing out single-use plastic products and putting a pause on new plastic facilities nationwide. Federal lawmakers need to get on board with the American public and the cities and states that have been leading the way for years on regulating single-use plastics, before this becomes a crisis we can’t reverse.”

The Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act (S. 984 and H.R. 2238) — introduced by Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Calif. — would continue the momentum initiated by cities, counties, and states across America. This comprehensive federal bill would phase out unnecessary single-use plastic products; protect fenceline communities by putting a moratorium on new and expanded plastic production facilities across the country; and hold companies accountable for their plastic waste. In addition to Congress passing this legislation, the Biden administration has the opportunity to reduce plastic pollution by eliminating the sale and distribution of single-use plastic products in national parks, a move supported by 82% of American voters, according to an Oceana poll released last month.

“Plastic pollution has become one of our planet's greatest threats and, as this poll shows, Americans overwhelmingly support policies to reduce the use of single-use plastic. Yet the United States is behind other countries in combating this crisis through single-use plastic regulation,” Leavitt said. “The plastics industry uses its money and influence to prevent change that would preserve a livable world for future generations. It's time our country's leaders prioritize people and planet  and pass the kind of nationwide reductions of single-use plastic we’re seeing across the globe.” 

The United States generates more plastic waste than any other country and exports much of this waste to developing countries that lack adequate waste-management systems. Only 9% of the plastic waste ever created has been recycled, yet the plastics industry continues to tout recycling as a panacea while increasing plastic production and pushing new plastic products onto the market. 

Over 90 countries have either banned plastic bags or placed fees on them. Several countries have gone further, banning a combination of single-use plastic products, including utensils, straws, stirrers, plates, cups, and plastic foam containers. Oceana’s survey results indicate the American public would support the U.S. following in the footsteps of countries that have led the way in single-use plastic reduction. 

Key findings among surveyed registered voters include:

  • 84% are concerned about plastic pollution and its impact on the environment and our oceans.
  • 86% are concerned about single-use plastic products.
  • 81% support national policies that reduce single-use plastic.
  • 81% support local and state policies that reduce single-use plastic.
  • Registered voters support policies that reduce the use of specific single-use items, including plastic bags (74%), foam foodware (73%), takeout containers (73%), plastic packaging from online shopping (73%), beverage bottles (72%), food wrappers (71%), and straws (68%).
  • 77% agree that companies need to stop producing and using so much single-use plastic.
  • 78% agree that companies should offer them plastic-free options.
  • 78% agree the United States has a responsibility to reduce its contribution to the global plastic pollution problem.
  • Republicans and Democrats were both overwhelmingly concerned about plastic pollution and had widespread support for policies that reduce single-use plastic products:
    • 93% of Democrats and 78% of Republicans are concerned about single-use plastic products.
    • 93% of Democrats and 74% of Republicans are concerned about plastic pollution and its impact on the environment and our oceans.
    • 91% of Democrats and 71% of Republicans support local and state policies that reduce single-use plastic.
    • 92% of Democrats and 69% of Republicans support national policies that reduce single-use plastic.

The national online poll, conducted by the nonpartisan polling company Ipsos, surveyed 1,005 American adults from across the U.S. between Nov. 5 and 9, 2021.

In addition to threatening marine life and entering our food, air, and water, plastic greatly contributes to climate change. In fact, plastic is set to outpace coal’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Plastic production also disproportionately affects low-income communities and communities of color by polluting their air, water, and soil. With plastic production growing at a rapid rate, increasing amounts of plastic can be expected to flood our blue planet with devastating consequences.

To learn more about Oceana’s campaign to stop plastic pollution, please visit 

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Oceana is the largest international ocean conservation and advocacy organization. Oceana works to protect and restore the world's oceans through targeted policy campaigns.

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