Re: “Stores shouldn’t provide bags at all” (TNT, 1-12).
The letter about plastic bags contained several inaccuracies, most notably the claim that they are made from petroleum. This is simply untrue.
American plastic retail bags are made from a byproduct of domestic natural gas, not oil. They are also 100 percent recyclable and the most environmentally friendly bagging option available in stores.
Reusable canvas bags are not the panacea. Studies show canvas bags must be used 131 times before their environmental impact is lower than a plastic bag used just once. And plastic bags are 100 percent reusable. In fact, 90 percent of Americans reuse plastic bags at least once.
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Plastic bags require fewer resources to produce than reusable bags and make up just .03 percent of the national waste stream. Shifting to reusable bags (made from non-woven polypropylene – a derivative of foreign oil) would have a negligible impact as most end up in landfills prematurely.
More than 25,000 hard-working Americans – including 1,000 in Washington state – are employed by the plastic bag manufacturing, distribution and recycling industry. Banning a product for little environmental gain puts people’s livelihoods at risk.
Recycling is a better way to achieve Tacoma’s sustainability goals.
(Califf is executive director of the American Progressive Bag Alliance, a trade group of plastic manufacturers and related companies.)