More than 20 plastics associations and allies sent a letter to Congress Sept. 27 stepping up their opposition to a tax on virgin resin and urging lawmakers to strike it from any of the major spending and tax plans on Capitol Hill.
The Plastics Industry Association, the American Chemistry Council, the Flexible Packaging Association and others said a 20-cent-per-pound tax on virgin plastic in single-use products would reduce their competitiveness, spur inflation and increase costs to consumers.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., proposed the tax last month, saying he wanted to create incentives to use more recycled plastic, and Senate leadership acknowledged the idea is being considered as part of the $3.5 trillion Democratic social spending and tax plans in Congress.
The industry groups said they strongly support using more recycled plastic and "understand the motivation behind efforts to encourage its use" but argued to lawmakers that a tax like Whitehouse's proposal would not achieve environmental goals.
"Taxing the production of virgin plastic would do little to increase access to recycling, improve the collection and sortation process, educate consumers or take other equally meaningful steps to limit plastic waste in the environment" the groups said in the letter addressed to the four top legislative leaders in the House and Senate.
"Our respective industry commitments to sustainability include goals of using less material and working to reduce our overall environmental footprints," they said. "We stand ready to continue conversations with Congress to advance these goals, but don't believe a tax of this sort moving through the process in this manner is the right approach."
The plastics groups said Whitehouse's resin tax has not been properly vetted.
"No witnesses have been called to provide expert analysis by either side in the public setting of a committee hearing," they said. "There has been no opportunity to study the economic impacts of a tax of this size nor how such a measure would viably be applied."
The groups pointed to an analysis that said it could place up to 92,000 jobs at risk and increase the cost of plastic by up to 26 percent.
"We respectfully encourage you to set it aside from further discussions related to the budget reconciliation package," they said.