A recent news report stated that LeMay Inc. will stop recycling single-use plastic bags in Thurston County. LeMay’s explanation? It has stockpiled more than 60 tons of plastic bags that it cannot sell because, as a LeMay manager explained, “Nobody wants it. . . . There’s just no market for it.”
This shouldn’t surprise us. According to a Sierra Club report, it costs $4,000 to process and recycle each ton of plastic bags, which can then be sold on the commodities market for just $32.
Shouldn’t this cause us in Tacoma to pause and consider why we continue to use a product that recyclers can’t even sell? And these plastic bags also levy an unquantifiable cost on our environment. Each year, worldwide, more than 1 trillion plastic bags are produced from fossil fuels. Then additional energy is expended manufacturing, packaging, shipping and distributing these bags to consumers, causing the release of even more greenhouse gases.
We go through 100 billion bags alone in the United States, but, we recycle fewer than 3 percent of them. Those bags not recycled will end up in landfills or in our oceans, where they will take 1,000 years to break down into smaller plastic particles. They never really go away.
It is time to take action. We don’t need plastic bags or their associated costs and environmental effects. Let your City Council member know that you support the effort to Ban the Bag in Tacoma.