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Should We Ban Single-Use Plastics?

January 2020

Citation: 50 ELR 10003

Issue: 1

Author: Caitlin McCarthy, Lillian Power, Catherine Plume, Matt Seaholm, and Jean-Cyril Walker

Millions of tons of plastic enter the environment every year, killing wildlife, releasing toxins, clogging drains, and marring landscapes. Bans or restrictions on single-use plastics have exploded in popularity in recent years as a means of addressing these problems. Yet these bans remain controversial, with some businesses pushing back against what they consider excessive regulation and others maintaining that banning single-use plastics uses political capital that could be spent advancing more urgent and systemic agendas. On October 16, 2019, the Environmental Law Institute hosted an expert panel that explored the benefits and challenges of an increasingly popular, but contentious, approach to the problem of plastic pollution. This Article presents a transcript of the discussion, which has been edited for style, clarity, and space considerations.

Caitlin McCarthy is ELI’s Director of Education, Associates and Corporate Partnerships. Lillian Power (moderator) is an Environmental Protection Specialist with the District of Columbia Department of Energy and Environment. Catherine Plume is a Principal with BlueGreen Plume, LLC. Matt Seaholm is Executive Director of the American Progressive Bag Alliance. Jean-Cyril Walker is a Partner with Keller and Heckman LLP.

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