I read with interest your articles and editorials regarding the ``bag tax'' in California. It seems an excellent example of more badly misguided attempts to solve problems.
As I understand it, the goal is to increase recycling and reduce waste in landfills. It seems to me that what they need to do in California and elsewhere is not to create new taxes, but to encourage the use of more plastic bags, not less.
People are going to use bags because they need them! The choice is plastic or paper. Paper is made from trees. It requires building roads in the forests, cutting the trees, transporting them to the paper factory, which uses noxious chemicals in the process. Paper requires large amounts of fuel for transportation and manufacturing; removes forests, which absorb carbon dioxide; and eliminates the flora and fauna that live there. It takes up a lot of room in garbage dumps and is not recoverable. It degrades the environment.
Plastic bags, on the other hand, are reusable, easy to carry and if not recycled will either be burned, recovering their energy, or better yet, be mined from garbage dumps by our great-grandchildren and recycled. The energy and oil will not be lost.
One thousand paper bags weigh 140 pounds, plastic only 26½ pounds. One thousand stacked paper bags are 46 inches high, plastic only 4 inches.
One semi-truck trailer can carry 500,000 paper bags or 2.8 million plastic bags.
Target stores use well over a billion plastic bags a year. American usage is probably in the trillions. Each plastic bag replaces a paper bag, which is part of a tree. Imagine how many forests are saved and how much less space is needed in garbage dumps.
Biodegradable plastics also lose all their energy and help produce methane, which harms the ozone layer, and are not environmentally sound.
Plastics have been viciously attacked by the glass, paper, metal and other industries that have been negatively affected by the miracle of plastics.
Now is the time to change the American perception of plastics. The ways are many. A few cost-effective examples are to educate all plastics employees and their families by giving them monthly information bulletins about the advantages of plastics. Prepare materials to encourage schools to teach plastics.
As alumni, we should go after our alma maters demanding that a course in plastic be required of every student. Industry publications should emphasize the value of plastics on a regular basis. Support The Miracle of Plastics Museum in its efforts to establish a traveling exhibit on Plastics in Medicine and a major museum in a major city. We must fight for mandatory plastic collection.
In chess, we learn that the best defense is a good offense.
The time for action is now!
Irvin I. Rubin
R Design & Consultation