Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Plastic bag makers miss the mark

by Amy Alton, Communications Associate

No doubt to coincide with Earth Day, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) – the trade group for the major plastic bag makers – announced yesterday their plan to use "40 percent recycled content in all plastic bags by 2015, including at least 25 percent postconsumer recycled plastic."

What a big hurrah they deserve for aiming at a whopping 25 percent post-consumer material in the bags they produce no sooner than six (plus) years from now. The Earth is indeed saved.

Oh wait.

While aiming to use recycled content in plastic bags is better than NOT using recycled content, it still doesn't address the ever-growing issue of plastic bag litter, which continues to plague the environment.

Plastic bags were the second largest item of littler picked up by volunteers during the Ocean Conservancy's 2008 International Coastal Cleanup Day. On this day, 1.37 million plastic bags were removed from coastal areas worldwide, second only in number to cigarette butts.

Enormous quantities of plastic bags are polluting our waters, smothering wetlands and entangling and killing animals. Bags also clog storm drains and recycling equipment and bag litter lowers property values and degrades recreational areas.

Rather than using disposable plastic (or paper) bags, we encourage shoppers to use reusable bags at grocery stores, retail outlets, farmers markets – you name it!

And others would agree. In this article, folks from Earth Day Network and National Resources Defense Council weigh in on the ACC's latest public relations ploy:

"It's annoying. And it's transparent," says Kathleen Rogers, president of Earth Day Network. "The death knell has sounded for plastic bags. They're just trying to continue to make a bad thing."

The Natural Resources Defense Council agrees: "We don't want people to use disposable bags. We want people to use reusable bags," says Darby Hoover, a senior research specialist.

The bottom line? Make the switch to reusable bags and eliminate ALL plastic bag litter – recycled or not.

Learn more at

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