Plastic bag makers and the American Chemistry Council made a pretty big announcement yesterday -- a pledge that they intend to use 40 percent recycled content in plastic carryout bags by 2015, including 25 percent post-consumer material. They say the move will save enough energy to heat 200,000 homes. Seems like a natural for news reporters looking for Earth Day stories, right? I thought I'd check into how the story is being played. USA Today gave the industry side, along with some views of opponents:
"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. Management consultant Pam Murtaugh says the Earth Day gambit will backfire. "They're late to the party of good sense. In bragging about it now, they're only building their own glass house."The Seattle Post-Intelligencer noted that one local environmentalist gave the plan a somewhat lukewarm endorsement:
"Forty percent as a target six years from now is a very positive step," said Heather Trim of People for Puget Sound, one of the groups pushing for the 20-cent per bag fee in Seattle. "But a turtle choking on a plastic bag doesn't notice if the bag is recycled." Trim said people in Seattle should avoid using plastic bags altogether. "That's why we have this (proposed) green fee. The sentiment of Americans is turning away from plastics."The comments sections of both stories, as usual, feature a pretty healthy debate on the pros and cons of plastic bags. (And yes, I noticed that someone named "Clear Perpsective" kicked off the discussion on both sites with identical responses. Would "Clear Perspective" care to identify him/herself on the blog?) Overall, I'm surprised that the story didn't get more attention today. Perhaps it will be wrapped into more Earth Day coverage in tomorrow's headlines.