In his July 21 blog post “Why the plastics industry should be OK with limits on plastic bags,” Steve Toloken advances several factual inaccuracies and unfairly portrays an American industry in a negative light when making his misguided argument for plastic bag bans and taxes.
Across the country, plastic bag manufacturers and recyclers employ more than 30,000 Americans. These high-quality manufacturing jobs, in turn, support thousands of other industries up and down the supply chain, from transportation to printing. In California alone — a state Steve described as the “chief battleground” in the plastic bag debate, roughly 2,000 jobs are directly threatened by the state's ill-advised bag ban.
But in California, the battle isn't even about the environmental impact of plastic bags. In reality, the issue was hijacked by the California Grocers Association, which was eager to pocket billions in new revenue from bag fees under the guise of environmentalism.
The plastic bag industry, on the other hand, has taken major steps to promote responsible reuse and recycling of their products. Nine out of 10 Americans reuse plastic retail bags for everyday home conveniences, and companies have developed the infrastructure necessary for large-scale recycling of plastic bags, film and product overwraps. Used bags and wraps currently are picked up from roughly 30,000 plastic bag recycling points at grocery stores and retailers all across the country. At the Novolex recycling facility in North Vernon, Ind., more than 35 million pounds of plastic bags, film and wraps are transformed into new bags every year.
Plastic bags truly have become a closed-loop product, so long as consumers manage them properly at end of life.
The plastics industry believes that corporate and consumer education aimed at encouraging the proper use, reuse and recycling of plastic bags is more valuable than misguided legislation. Educated consumers who know to recycle their plastic bags at their local grocery store will have a greater impact on protecting the environment — and American jobs — than draconian bag bans, fees and taxes.
President and CEO
Society of the Plastics Industry Inc.
Editor's note: Steve Toloken is Plastics News' news editor-international.