Letter: Arguments against bag fees don't hold up

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As a recycling professional, I found many misleading statements in Curtis Picard’s letter regarding proposed local ordinances to limit the use of plastic bags. His information is coming from the American Chemistry Council. Its mission is to promote the sale of these materials.

Plastic bag recycling rates are dismally low – less than 2.7 percent according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency studies. ACC’s own data indicate an even a lower rate. Plastic bag recycling relies on highly motivated participation. Curbside programs are rare and cause havoc with recycling facilities. Why not bring your own?

He also selectively quotes facts about plastics in the marine environment. The reports cited actually show plastic bags to be one of the most common items found in Maine coastal clean-ups.

The assertion that fees have had no positive impact is simply untrue. Independent reports on Washington, D.C.’s 5-cent (not 10-cent) fee indicate that 80 percent of residents used less plastic bags and 66 percent reported fewer littered plastic bags.

Finally, a well-written ordinance is not a tax. We already pay for the bags; it is embedded in the cost of the goods purchased. A small fee would simply change this from an indirect fee to a direct fee: it is your choice.

The inconvenient truth is that reducing plastic bag use is in conflict with the ACC’s mission. ACC’s and Picard’s time would be better spent listening to local retailers that are on the cutting edge of the movement to reduce waste and encourage a more circular economy.

James Ecker

  • areyoukiddingme

    This type of language simply astonishes me and really shows the author’s bias. “Finally, a well-written ordinance is not a tax”. So let’s take an item that costs well below the ordinance amount. What on earth would a sane person call the difference imposed solely by a government entity?

    • Chew H Bird

      It is a “fee”… I just want to know why, if Hannaford and Shaws can recycle the plastic bags, our town decided to contract with a firm that doesn’t. If these thin multi use (I use them multiple times) bags are such a threat to our environment I would have thought recycling these bags would be required of a recycling firm to contract with the town of Brunswick.