16 January 2009 21:24 [Source: ICIS news]
By Brian Ford
HOUSTON (ICIS news)--It is better to recycle than to ban or tax plastic shopping bags, according to the American Chemistry Council.
The ACC hopes to convey this environmental message to states and municipalities in 2009 in response to a wave of proposed plastics bans and other restrictions that are sweeping the country.
The most common reason cited in plastic bag ban initiatives is litter prevention, Russell said, noting that discarded bags have high visibility.
Also, “because they are made from a non-renewable resource they are [seen as] not as good as other materials”, he said.
Russell maintained the ban proposals have resulted in few ordinances as “most policymakers figure out the best thing to do is promote recycling”.
The Tucson City Council voted in November assemble regulations to cut back on the use of plastic shopping bags and to promote recycling, according to the Arizona Daily Star.
Instead, supermarkets have the option of using compostable bags made of corn starch and bags made of recyclable paper.
Some data collected regarding the effects of the
In fact, the ACC maintained the
The California Grocers Association also opposes the ban, saying it “will cripple normal recycling efforts and fail to reduce carryout bag use”.
The Los Angeles City Council voted in July to ban plastic carryout bags in the city’s supermarkets and stores by July 2010 - but only if the state fails to impose a 25-cent fee on every shopper who requests them, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Other cities have placed taxes on plastic bags as an incentive to cut usage and reduce litter.
“The new tax likely will have negative effects on the environment,” the ACC said in a statement. “When other communities have tried to tax or ban the use of plastic retail bags, shoppers have primarily switched to paper bags….These communities also have found no reduction in the overall use of plastic bags or litter.”
Russell said: “The number one reason to recycle plastics over alternatives is that at every step of the life cycle plastics are better environmentally.” Also, “people resoundingly prefer plastics over other materials”, he said.
In 2006 (the most recent year available for such data), the US collected 812m lbs (368,321 tonnes) of plastic bags and films - roughly about 10-11% of such material produced that year - for recycling. The amount was 25% more than was recycled 2005 and that was before many major recycling programmes took effect, Russell said.
The state of
The ACC promotes the “Three R’s” of plastics: “reduce, re-use and recycle”, Russell said.
Ninety-two percent of the public say they re-use plastic bags,” Russell said, adding, “Just ask any dog owner.”
The ACC is planning a multi-year public awareness campaign in cooperation with the Keep America Beautiful anti-litter education organisation, beginning in 2009, Russell said.
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