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Citizens of Sturbridge Reject Plastic Bag Ban


Coast to Coast, Bag Bans Rejected -- Recycling Gains Steam

In a public hearing last night the, people of Sturbridge, MA rejected a proposal to ban plastic bags in large retail stores. With this decision, Sturbridge becomes the latest municipality to embrace recycling of plastic bags as the environmentally responsible choice.

Local residents voted in overwhelming opposition to the ban defeating the measure with a two-thirds majority vote. Many voters, including a local economist, cited lack of evidentiary support for the measure.

“The people of Sturbridge should be commended for demanding more scientific rigor from their public policy,” said Steve Russell, Managing Director for the Plastics Division of the American Chemistry Council. “When it comes to sound environmental policy, bag bans just don’t add up. That’s why progressive communities around the nation are realizing that plastic bags should be recycled.”

Widely accepted lifecycle data indicate that banning plastic bags can create unintended negative consequences for the environment. The obvious result of a plastic bag ban is an increased use of alternative bags, such as paper bags. Paper bags create more solid waste, use more water and fossil fuels and generate more greenhouse gases than plastic bags. Even a 100% recycled paper bag requires more energy to manufacture and process than a plastic bag.

While there remains only one city in the nation with a plastic bag ban, cities and states that have conducted diligent assessments of the environmental impacts associated with banning plastic bags are moving to plastic bag recycling as the practical solution. Recycling plastic bags is the right approach and makes plastic bags the environmentally responsible choice. From coast to coast – from Honolulu, to the state of California, to Austin to New York City to Sturbridge and elsewhere – more communities are recycling plastic bags because it makes sense for the environment and the economy.

More Americans are recycling plastic bags and film than ever before, driven by a growing realization that plastic bags and film are a valuable resource. In the United States, plastic bags and film recycling increased by 24% in 2006, reaching a record high. The increase in recycling is in part driven by greater demand for valuable recycled plastic and increased recycling of plastic grocery bags in states like Massachusetts.


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