A Franklin Associates study recently found that a ton of virgin plastics is responsible for more than a ton of additional carbon dioxide emissions compared to recycled plastics. At the current social cost of carbon dioxide emissions used by the federal government, this translates into an additional $60 of climate change damages.
What’s the solution? The solution flows directly from the fundamental issue: Virgin and recycled plastics do not compete on a level player field. The market is able to ignore the greater environmental burden of virgin plastics. Economists have known that the most efficient way to address this is to level the playing field by making users of virgin plastics pay for the added costs the virgin plastic adds to the globe.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) has a new bill that will do just that. The bill would place a $40 per-ton tax on virgin plastics used to make single-use products. Recycled plastic would not face the tax, nor would plastic used in multi-use products such as in your car, cell phones, etc. Importantly, imported single-use plastic would also be taxed so as not to disadvantage U.S. plastic manufacturing.[…]
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