Marc Gunther, senior writer for GreenBiz.com, posted a long defense of plastic bags on his website today. But judging by other headlines in recent weeks, I wonder if anyone will pay attention.
Gunther's blog post, "In Defense of the Plastic Bag," compiles and summarizes a lot of points we've already seen:
- Bag bans aren't based on science.
- Plastic bag litter is not as bad as some critics have implied.
- Recycling is a viable alternative to bans.
He concludes: "The truth is, we don't really have a clear answer to the age-old question of 'paper or plastic,' now amended to say 'paper, plastic or reusable?' Too many variables are at play.
"My own answer? I carry several reusable bags in the trunk of my (hybrid) car and bring them into the grocery store when I remember. When I don't, I take plastic and bring it back to be recycled. I don't feel bad about that. Neither should you," Gunther wrote.
But is it too late for debate and reasoned arguments? Recent headlines suggest to me that the pace of bag bans and taxes will accelerate in 2012.
Seattle passed a bag ban
on Dec. 19. The law may face a challenge -- although Seattle Times
columnist Danny Westneat thinks that's unlikely.
He opposed Seattle's previous effort to tax bags, but he says this attempt is "reasonable."
Hawaii's Big Island also approved a bag ban -- that news
came yesterday. Mayor Billy Kenoi could still veto the bill. But there's momentum for eventual approval of a bag ban or tax that would cover all of Hawaii.
For more background on the plastics industry's strategy for fighting bag bans, check Plastics News
staff reporter Mike Verespej's recent story
He explains how the Society of the Plastics Industry is taking charge of fighting local efforts to tax or ban plastic bags, while the American Chemistry Council is putting its muscle behind an effort to improve film and bag recycling.
It seems like a reasonable plan. But the question remains, is it too late?