Letters to the Editor

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TACOMA: The truth about plastic bags

Letter by Philip R. Rozenski, Washington, D.C. on July 21, 2014 at 1:38 pm with No Comments »
July 21, 2014 3:41 pm

Re: “Support ban of single-use plastic bags,” (letter, 7-16).

The letter expressed commonly misguided rationale for banning plastic bags. While the author admirably supports our environment, the issues raised are largely based on misinformation.

In 2011, the City of Tacoma adopted a resolution supporting life-cycle thinking in its decisions. The truth is, plastic retail bags are the most environmental option at the checkout, particularly when looked at from a life-cycle perspective.

Banning plastic bags forces consumers to choose options that increase greenhouse gas levels in our atmosphere. The process required to manufacture and distribute oil-based reusable bags is energy intensive and increases atmospheric carbon more than the process for plastic bags.

American-made plastic bags are 100 percent recyclable and produced from natural gas, emitting far fewer greenhouse gases in their production. In fact, David Tyler, a chemistry professor at the University of Oregon, has pointed out, “If the most important environmental impact you wanted to alleviate was global warming, then you would go with plastic.”

Additionally, Tacoma’s own waste stream data shows that plastic bags are not a major contributor to waste. In fact, only 0.2 percent of Tacoma’s waste stream is comprised of plastic bags, less than half of the national average. Targeting such a small portion of waste and litter would have negligible environmental impact.

Tacoma should focus on recycling programs for plastic bags as opposed to banning them. That would actually promote environmental stewardship.

(Rozenski is director of marketing with the American Progressive Bag Alliance.)

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