Plastic bag ban hurts recycling
Your article "Recycling is easier, starting today" (July 1, 2007) does well to stress the importance of environmentally responsible behavior, specifically recycling. People are not aware that plastic bags are 100 percent recyclable and, in many cases, a more environmentally-friendly choice.
Extreme measures like proposed bans in Annapolis and Baltimore are likely to have unintended negative consequences to the environment and local economy and create immeasurable social costs. Instead of encouraging extreme measures, communities should do more to establish and promote plastic bag recycling.
Plastic bag recycling programs allow consumers to exercise their personal preference while offering an environmentally sustainable solution. Plastic bags require 40 percent less energy to produce than paper; generate 80 percent less solid waste; and produce 70 percent fewer air emissions than paper bags. The U.S. EPA has also found that paper bag production generates 50 percent more water pollution than plastic bag production.
California is the first state to make a positive move toward a practical plastic bag recycling program. California's Plastic Bag Recycling Act, which went into effect July 1, requires most grocery stores and retailers with pharmacies to provide customers with a plastic bag recycling program. The law is a unique model for recycling programs nationwide.
Our organization is partnering with cities and retailers in a national campaign, Bring it Back, to make it easy to recycle plastic bags. We look forward to working with Maryland's business and civic leaders to investigate a practical solution that will work for your diverse communities.
The writer is chairman of the Progressive Bag Alliance in Houston.