Statement By the Progressive Bag Affiliates of the American Chemistry Council: Plastic Bag Bans in Counties of Maui and Hawaii Environmentally Irresponsible
Today, Shari Jackson, director for the Progressive Bag Affiliates of the American Chemistry Council, issued the following statement in response to the recent approval of laws prohibiting businesses from providing plastic shopping bags in the Counties of Maui and Hawaii:
“These bans on plastic bags are wrong for the environment, wrong for business, and wrong for consumers. The County Councils’ actions were a disservice to citizens because a ban on plastic bags will result in an increase in greenhouse gas emissions – as businesses switch to more expensive paper bags – and higher prices at the register, as many businesses pass these higher costs onto consumers.
“The obvious result of a plastic bag ban is an increase in the use of alternative bags, such as paper bags. Plastic bags use 70 percent less energy and generate 50 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than paper bags to manufacture. Also, because paper bags weigh nearly ten times more than plastic bags, the environmental and economic impacts of shipping paper bags to Maui will be significant.
“Many grocery and retail stores in Maui and Hawaii already offer at-store programs that allow consumers to bring their used plastic bags back for recycling. The County Councils’ decisions were particularly disappointing as they came after repeated offers from plastic bag makers and retailers to work with local governments to help promote plastic bag recycling among consumers.
“More Americans are recycling plastic bags and film than ever before, driven by a growing realization that plastic bags and film are too valuable to waste. Recycled plastic bags and films can be made into valuable new products, including building and construction materials, durable composite decking and, of course, new bags. In the United States, the recycling of plastic bags and film increased by 24 percent in 2006, reaching a record high. The increase in recycling is in part driven by greater demand for valuable recycled plastic and increased opportunities to recycle plastic bags at more and more grocery and retail stores nationwide.
“We look forward to shining light on the environmental and economic implications of the Council’s action in the days, weeks and months ahead.
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