In Texas, a federal judge approved a settlement agreement between a plastics manufacturer and an environmental activist in Port Lavaca, Texas. Formosa, a Taiwan-based plastics manufacturer and a private citizen represented by Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid.

$50 million was awarded to the citizen under clean air and water laws. Diane Wilson sued Formosa in 2017. She alleged Formosa had discharged thousands of plastic pellets and pollutants illegally into Lavaca Bay and other tributaries. The plant is located in Port Comfort.

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Formosa argued that environmental fines it had already paid to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) should cancel out the lawsuit. The company paid $121,875 in fines. Formosa was in violation of the law for 1,149 days and had never reported a discharge of plastics.

District Judge Kenneth Hoyt ruled against the company, saying in the case, “the TCEQ’s findings and assessment merely shows the difficulty or inability of the TCEQ to bring Formosa into compliance with its permit restrictions.” Plaintiffs brought in boxes of plastic to show the pollution. The plastic had been collected by Wilson and others over several years.

The money from the suit will be placed into a trust and used for public education, environmental efforts, habitat restoration and pollution mitigation. Wilson said in a statement, “Having the $50 million settlement go to local environmental projects feels like justice,Formosa polluted Lavaca Bay and nearby waterways for years. Now it will pay for strong community projects that will improve the health and welfare of our waterways and beaches.”

As part of the settlement, Formosa also had to agree to “zero discharge” of future plastics and to clean up existing pollution. The company said in a statement on the lawsuit settlement that it shows Formosa’s “commitment to manufacturing our products in a safe and environmentally friendly manner.”

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Read more about waterway pollution in One Green Planet including the technology that’s cleaning up rivers and what’s hiding in San Francisco’s waterways.

There are products you may be using or habits you may have that contribute to plastic pollution. Learn more about how the use of Teabags, Cotton Swabs, Laundry, Contact Lenses, Glitter and Sheet Masks pollute our oceans so you can make more informed decisions going forward. There are also numerous simple actions and switches that can help cut plastic out of our lives including, making your own cosmetics, shampoo, toothpaste, soap, household cleaners, using  mason jars, reusable bags/bottles/straws, and avoiding microbeads

To learn more about the impact of plastic waste, please read the articles below: 

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