Detail of two hands holding colorful microplastics on the beach

Plastics and microplastics have become a significant environmental concern, leading to regulatory and legislative actions at both the federal and state levels. These actions include bans on plastic bags, single-use plastics, and straws; restrictions on plastic pellets and personal care products; as well as regulations that require monitoring at permitted facilities primarily focusing on drinking water.

Recognizing the need for innovative approaches to tackle plastic waste, the EPA has released a “Draft National Strategy to Prevent Plastic Pollution.” This strategy outlines three key objectives:

1. Reduce pollution during plastic production: The EPA aims to minimize pollution associated with the manufacturing of plastics. By addressing the production phase, the agency seeks to mitigate the environmental impact of plastics from the outset.

2. Improve post-use materials management: An essential aspect of plastic pollution prevention involves effective management of plastic waste after its use. The EPA’s strategy emphasizes the importance of implementing efficient recycling and waste management systems to maximize the reuse and recycling of plastics.

3. Prevent trash and micro/nanoplastics from entering waterways and remove escaped trash from the environment: The EPA recognizes the significant impact of plastic pollution on water bodies and ecosystems. To address this, the agency aims to prevent plastic debris, including microplastics and nanoplastics, from entering waterways. Additionally, efforts will be made to remove existing plastic waste from the environment.

As public and stakeholder comment goes until July 31, Brown and Caldwell’s research and innovation teams are closely following these developments. The new document could change public policies, design and production standards, and compliance actions. Read BC Insider’s “Microplastics: The next big (tiny) unknown in water reuse” on how to prepare for change.

In other environmental updates, we highlight the following in our Compliance News:

SCOTUS decision implications for WOTUS and Chevron

The recent Sackett v. EPA ruling will have implications for both WOTUS (water of the United States) and the “Chevron Deference” (stemming from a 1984 ruling that requires courts to defer to a federal agency’s interpretation of a statute it administers when that statute is ambiguous or leaves a gap for the agency to fill).

EPA sued over lack of updates to wastewater regulations

A lawsuit filed by a coalition of environmental groups alleges the EPA has violated the Clean Water Act (CWA) by failing to make mandatory updates to wastewater pollution regulations for seven industry sectors.

EPA proposes first tribal CWA protections

The proposed federal baseline for water quality standards would safeguard water quality on Indian reservations that do not have Clean Water Act standards, ensuring protections for over half a million people as well as critical aquatic ecosystems.

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