Speakout

June 17, 2007

ISSUE: -- The Annapolis city council is scheduled to hear next month legislation that would outlaw common plastic bags at grocery stores, pharmacies, clothing shops and other retailers in hopes of reducing litter and protecting the environment.

"Banning plastic is the right way to go. We can live without plastic checkout bags," said the sponsor of the Annapolis ordinance, Alderman Samuel E. Shropshire.

In taking up the paper-versus-plastic question, Baltimore and Annapolis are joining a handful of cities questioning the wisdom of widespread use of the bags.

Supporters of the bans say that manufacturing plastic bags squanders more than 12 million barrels of oil each year. Add to that the nuisance of bags blowing along roads or hanging from trees, and the danger they present to aquatic life when they end up in waterways.

Those in the pro-plastic camp contend that the bags are not only reusable and recyclable, but are a better environmental choice and require comparatively little space in landfills. And plastic bags are also much cheaper. Under the proposed Annapolis ordinance, scheduled to be introduced July 9, all stores would have to issue recyclable paper bags, or customers would have to provide reusable bags. Retailers would face up to $500 in fines for providing plastic bags.

Should the city give plastic bags the sack?

Plastic easy to carry, keeps items dry

Two main reasons why I support plastic bags: handles and rain.

It is very difficult carrying in groceries in those big brown bags. You could carry one or sometimes two at a time. They are heavy and unwieldy, and they bottom out if the rain (or their contents) happens to get them wet. They also dump out if you fumble them.

Can all stores, including discount and grocery stores, afford to provide us with strong paper bags with handles that won't break?

Vanessa Montes Churchton

Plastic is cheaper, reusable, useful

Plastic bags serve many purposes, are reusable and are cheaper than paper bags.

I am possibly one of the most pro-environment Republicans out there. Getting rid of plastic bags would be great for the environment.

But now is not the time. Right now, the best thing is to encourage people to recycle. Too much recyclable material is trashed.

Victor Henderson Glen Burnie

Recycling of plastic isn't viable

The only people who can have a positive view of plastic bags are either those who make money from plastic or those who lack adequate information.

Despite all the discussion of what is feasible, hardly anyone in the U.S. reuses plastic bags.

Recycling? Calculate the energy used in transportation and the process of doing this and compare it with the value of what is produced and this also begins to look like just big talk. It really isn't viable.

Sure, plastic bags are cheaper than canvas or other fabric bags. Big deal. If every American was to spend maybe 10 bucks on cloth bags, I don't think it would have any impact on anyone's life or lifestyle. But the Earth would benefit hugely.

Fabric bags are cheaper than most Americans imagine. And because they last for hundreds of uses, they turn out much, much cheaper in the long run.

To know how economical and attractive they can be, visit www.badlani.com/bags.

Many cities have declared themselves plastic free even without making it mandatory. See some recent success stories at www.badlani.com/blog.

Rajiv K. Badlani Norquest Brands Private Ltd. Ahmedabad, India

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