This June, the Plastics Collective published new policy recommendations for Southwestern Pennsylvania in regards to single-use plastics.
These recommendations are based on a year of research focusing specifically on municipalities in the area, taking the priorities and challenges of the communities into account. The recommendations are focused on reducing the use of plastic bags, straws, and polystyrene. Polystyrene is a plastic often found in packaging, especially when storing or transporting food.
Some of the policy recommendations include charging for plastic bags; encourage use of reusable bags; ban plastic straws and cutlery (with accessible exemptions); and ban expanded polystyrene at restaurants, retailers and grocery stores that would include single use coolers, single-use cutlery, and other packaging.
The plastic in single-use items never breaks down and contributes to the worldwide increase in microplastic pollution. These microplastics have been found in almost every Pennsylvania waterway, including the three Pittsburgh rivers and smaller local bodies of water like the Nine Mile Run.
Bringing sustainability into the policy, schools, and homes of Pittsburgh is close to our hearts at the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, as we work to protect our city’s natural environment in the parks and encourage people to connect with nature. Along with the many education programs run through Frick Park that give local kids opportunities to engage in park stewardship, we also run a battery recycling program at the Frick Environmental Center. Similar to single-use plastic, batteries are often thrown out without thought to how they will affect the environment long-term.
We encourage you to try to cut back on single-use plastics on your own and support policies that will reduce them in the area. Check out more information at Here’s Your Plastic if you want to learn more. In the meantime, visit the Frick Environmental Center if you’re interested in our education programs and be sure to bring your old batteries!