Upon a recent trip to southern California, I was struck by these “recycling stations”, mandated and paid for from a recycling bill backed by the American Chemistry Council. The so called “recycling stations” are more like an ad for the plastic industry, neatly stating above the cans “Plastics. Too Valuable to Waste”. Really? Or maybe it should be something to the effect of “Plastics (especially bags): too wasteful to value. I’m curious how that recycling bill is fairing for California litter, stormdrains, beaches and the nearshore ocean animals. And just today, news comes out that after plastic industry demands for a bag recycling bill instead of a bag ban bill, they still can’t support reaching the 20% recycling rate in the first year. This just shows the hypocrisy of the plastic bag industry. They claim a ban isn’t needed because bags can be recycled, but when legislators cater to their demands (thanks to out-of-state campaign donations and lobbying) they oppose that too! Fact is, there’s a reason that 95% of plastic bags aren’t recycled – there’s no real market and its cheaper for the industry to produce billions of new ones each year. The bottom line is that a bag ban will not only protect the environment, it will save money for both businesses and consumers. If that wasn’t true, the NW Grocers Assoc. never would have supported the original bill (SB 536) which continues to be opposed by the (out of state) plastics lobby.
The plastic industry has continually opposed a ban relying on the messaging that recycling is the answer and they’d be interested in a recycling bill. That bluff has been called and the plastic industry is showing their cards now that recycling is not the answer. Well played plastic-hearted on the million dollar scare tactics, campaigning and recycling messaging, but you’ve got an empty hand now – clearly you can’t recycle your way out of this problem.
The simple points on recycling:
- Recycling is not an effective solution to the environmental problem of plastic pollution. An estimated 100,000 marine mammals and 1 million sea birds die every year after ingesting or being tangled in plastics.
- Recycling rates can increase, but at the same time the number of plastic bags consumed can increase.
- Recycling might make us feel good, but it’s a failure to Reduce our consumption, and to Reuse alternative solutions.
- Where these are being recycled is a key thing, if they are still being shipped over to China or back to Indiana, then the overall carbon footprint is huge. Learn more about that here!
- Incinerating plastic bags for electricity is not recycling.
- Oregonians are already confused and many unaware that you can’t put plastic bags into your curbside, passing this could lead to an increase of people putting them into their curbside and greater economic impacts to Oregon recyclers and material recovery facilities over the next few years.
We know enough right now about the very real economic and environmental impacts of plastic bags to Oregon businesses and the health of our ecosystems to take action, why wait for 2-3 years before implementing a ban.