Last year at this time, we wrote about the anticipation of the election outcomes and the impact of the unknowns on advocacy strategies and planning for the coming legislative sessions. The year 2021 finds us in a similar place despite a different set of factors. While there are no major federal elections, we are on the cusp of the 2022 mid-term elections with political battle lines already drawn and positioning for campaigns echoed in the daily floor speeches in Congress. COVID-19—and its related pandemic economic concerns—continues to be a lingering challenge that impacts the legislative agendas for both sides of the aisle, and new climate and political crises on a national and international scale seem to top the evening news each night.
That said, the Flexible Packaging Association’s (FPA) federal advocacy efforts continue to advance to protect the priorities of the flexible packaging industry. “Flexible” has been the word of the year again, and efforts in Washington, D.C., continued to embrace this mantra. Despite the unknowns, 2021 has provided clarity and expectations for the Administration’s and the 117th Congress’s path for-ward on many issues that will continue to be the focus of FPA’s advocacy efforts going into the new year, including:
Climate Change: From day one of his administration and rejoining the Paris Agreement, President Joe Biden has been consistent and persistent in his whole-of-government approach to addressing climate change, as evidenced by numerous executive orders to sweeping policy proposals—The American Rescue Plan Act, the American Jobs Plan, and the American Families Plan—addressing various aspects of climate change. The Democratic-controlled Congress, for the most part, has advanced these efforts with complementary legislation to take the agenda from proposals to law.
Environmental Justice: Environmental Justice is an issue covering serious problems, which has been an emergent topic in the last few years. Part of the difficulty surrounding actions to address concerns has been the lack of/differing definitions of what environmental justice is and what it includes. The Administration helped clarify this with the Justice40 interim guidance that was issued over the summer. Additionally, nearly every piece of board policy legislation that has advanced this year has had pro-visions on this topic, including the annual appropriations bills, as well as the infrastructure packages.
Plastics/Recycling: The concern in Washington over the significant problem of plastic waste in the environment was demonstrated by the number of legislative proposals introduced this year, as well as numerous provisions that were included in the infrastructure package. FPA applauds the inclusion of funding in the bipartisan infrastructure package for the advanced energy manufacturing and recycling grant program, post-consumer materials management grants, and the RECYCLE Act—which hopes to outline a consumer recycling education and outreach grant program.
Manufacturing: The Biden Administration also has engaged in many efforts to promote “Made in America” through investments and policies meant to promote the expansion of facilities, R&D, and workforce training incentives. While these efforts can be helpful to many FPA members, advocacy efforts are focused on balancing these investments with corporate tax changes and regulatory burdens that counter any potential progress from them.
Looking forward to calendar year 2022, we know that it will be another active year in Washington, D.C. Our hope continues to be that next year will be less dynamic than 2021, but we stand ready to promote and protect the flexible packaging industry at the federal level.