Overview: Public awareness around “plastics pollution” has steadily grown since the 1950s, alongside Americans’ increased use of single-use packaging. Over the course of that time, policymakers and the public’s focus on the issue has ebbed and flowed, often following whatever narrow issue lands on the front pages of newspapers at that time. The first big national wave of “bottle bills” hit in the 1970s. The late 1990’s and early 2000’s saw a focus on polystyrene and so-called “Styrofoam bans.” More recently, the focus has pivoted toward utensils, particularly straws. As a result, environmental activists have capitalized on the growing consensus across the country that plastics pollution is a problem and that protecting the environment is an important public policy priority.
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