MSNBC has in interesting story today on how the plastics industry, specifically T-shirt bag makers and their suppliers, are battling the wave of bans and taxes that started in San Francisco and seems to be sweeping across America. Sometimes there's a tendency in stories like this to make industry into a villain, but that's not the case here. I think this story is pretty fair. Both sides of the issue have their say, including two representatives from the Progressive Bag Affiliates, Donna Dempsey and Keith Christman. Here's an excerpt_
The plastics industry had no intention of allowing the San Francisco model to spread without a fight, though. It quickly and quietly joined with retailers and other business interests and launched a successful counterattack, using lobbying muscle to quash proposed bans. In the face of the onslaught, the cities have instituted voluntary recycling programs that proponents of the bans say are ineffective and likely to remain so. And in at least two instances, plastics interests have turned the tables on their green adversaries by filing lawsuits on environmental grounds in an effort to prevent bans from taking effect. “The plastic industry … will try to win local battle by local battle,” says Marc Mihaly, director of the environmental law center at Vermont Law School. “They will intimidate where they can. If they can't intimidate … they will try to influence legislators.” Plastics industry representatives attribute their successes to a growing realization that plastic bans are misguided. “The trend is that cities who are taking a look at what San Francisco did … are all taking a step back and going toward recycling,” said Donna Dempsey, a spokeswoman for Progressive Bag Affiliates, which represents plastic bag makers. The so-far scattered skirmishes are part of a grander battle over bags, a conflict in which plastic and paper industries are fighting for supermarket supremacy while fending off an ecological newcomer: the reusable fabric bag.The "scattered skirmishes" characterization is interesting. It seems like every week -- almost every day -- I see proposals pop up somewhere to tax or ban plastic bags. In the past week, Massachusetts joined the party, and the plastics industry is preparing for a battle in the United Kingdom, according to our sister publication Plastics & Rubber Weekly. Does the plastics industry have a winning strategy for fighting bag bans? If not, what should it be doing differently?