Online newsmagazine Salon.com has a feature today about plastic bags, and it's not pretty. It starts with the headline "Plastic bags are killing us," and goes on to call them "an environmental scourge like no other, sapping the life out of our oceans and thwarting our attempts to recycle it." And that's just the introductory paragraph. The author, Katharine Mieszkowski, covers the issues very thoroughly. Bag bans have been a front-burner issue for the plastics industry for a couple of years, although the industry is just beginning to react to the challenge. There's nothing in the Salon story that's going to be new to Plastics News readers -- many of Mieszkowski's sources are the same people we've been quoting about bag bans and marine debris. But it's still interesting to see the story though a different perspective, especially how she deals with some of the industry arguments about plastic bags being recyclable, and how they save energy compared to alternatives. The story covers all sides of the debate, even though the headline is a great example of hyperbole. Here's another prominent point that is worth debating. The story quotes Carol Misseldine, sustainability coordinator for the city of Oakland, saying that recycling plastic bags into composite decking is not an example of true recycling. "We're not recycling plastic bags into plastic bags," she says. "They're being downcycled, meaning that they're being put into another product that itself can never be recycled." First, I don't think there's anything wrong with recycling a disposable product into a durable application. Second, I don't think you can say that composite decking "can never be recycled." And, finally, it's an exaggeration to say that we're "not recycling plastic bags into plastic bags," because some people are doing just that.
Salon says plastic bags are killing us
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