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21 posts from April 2008

April 25, 2008

Bottle Maker To Stop Using Plastic Linked To Health Concerns

New York Times 04.18.08Nytimesnalgene

Nalgene, the brand that popularized water bottles made from hard, clear and nearly unbreakable polycarbonate, will stop using the plastic because of growing concern over one of its ingredients.

Link: Bottle Maker To Stop Using Plastic Linked To Health Concerns

US Senator To Propose Ban On Bisphenol A

ICIS (International Chemical Information Service) 04.23.08

Icisbabybottle US Senator Chuck Schumer (Democrat-New York) will propose legislation banning the sale of children’s products and food containers containing bisphenol A (BPA), possibly before the end of the week, the legislator’s office said on Wednesday. As justification for the ban, the senator cited the National Toxicology Program’s draft report, published on 14 April.

Link: US Senator To Propose Ban On Bisphenol A

Canada Says Chemical In Hard Plastic Bottles May Be Unsafe

Associated Press 04.19.08
An ubiquitous chemical found in hard plastic water bottles, DVDs, CDs and hundreds of other common items came under increased pressure Friday when Canada said it's potentially harmful and may ban its use in baby bottles. Health Canada made the announcement shortly after a U.S. company said it would stop selling hard-plastic Nalgene water bottles made with bisphenol A because of growing consumer concern over whether the chemical poses a health risk.

Link: Canada Says Chemical In Hard Plastic Bottles May Be Unsafe

VIDEO CLIP: How Safe Are Plastic Bottles

The Today Show 04.09.08

Tv_nbc_today_logoDo chemicals in the plastic bottles you use every day make them unsafe? Matt Lauer talks with Dr. Leo Trasande of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

Link: How Safe Are Plastic Bottles, Part 1

Link: How Safe Are Plastic Bottles, Part 2

Canada Plans To Ban Polycarbonate Baby Bottles

Reuters 04.18.08
Canada intends to become the first country to ban the import and sale of some types of plastic baby bottles because they contain a chemical that the government says could harm infants and toddlers. Health Minister Tony Clement said on Friday he would bring in rules to outlaw plastic polycarbonate baby bottles, perhaps within the next year. These bottles are made with bisphenol A, which is also used in food and water containers.

Link: Canada Plans To Ban Polycarbonate Baby Bottles

We Should Have Banned Bisphenol A Twenty Years Ago

Wired News 04.22.08

20yearsagoOver the last twenty years, scientists have built a mountain of evidence that Bisphenol A, the key ingredient in polycarbonate plastic, should scare the daylights out of us. It should have been banned a long time ago, as a precautionary measure, but regulators were asleep at the switch -- allowing the chemical industry to run roughshod over them.

Link: We Should Have Banned Bisphenol A Twenty Years Ago

The Plastics Revolution

Washington Post 04.22.08
Many scientists and environmental advocates believe man-made components in plastics -- particularly a group of compounds called phthalates and another hormonally active chemical known as bisphenol A, or BPA -- can leach harmful chemicals that get absorbed into our bodies. The financial stakes are huge: Plastics is the country's third-largest manufacturing industry, employing 1.1 million workers and producing nearly $379 billion worth of goods each year.

Link: The Plastics Revolution

Debate Rages Over Plastic Bottle Chemical’s Safety

Reuters 04.18.08

Canada is moving to get rid of products with a chemical common in plastic baby bottles, the United States is expressing concern over its safety and some retailers are planning to stop selling these items. But whether the chemical bisphenol A poses genuine health risks in people remains a matter of debate, with industry groups defending its safety and environmental activists saying studies involving animals show otherwise.

Link: Debate Rages Over Plastic Bottle Chemical's Safety

More US Retailers Give BPA The Boot

USA Today 04.21.08

Canada's proposed ban on a hormone-like chemical in baby bottles has spurred U.S. retailers and legislators to try to phase out use of the ingredient, called bisphenol A, or BPA. Canada's announcement Friday came just days after the National Toxicology Program, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, found "some concern" that low levels of BPA cause changes in behavior and the brain, prostate gland, mammary gland and the age at which girls enter puberty.

Link: More US Retailers Give BPA The Boot

US Cites Fears On Chemical In Plastics

Washington Post 04.18.08

Washington_post_logo_3Last year, an expert panel using outside scientists minimized the health risks of BPA, but its findings were widely assailed after a congressional investigation found that a firm hired to perform scientific analysis was also working for the chemical industry.

Link: US Cites Fears On Chemical In Plastics

April 10, 2008

VIDEO CLIP: Eco Moms Are Going Green

The Today Show 04.09.08

Tupperware parties are old hat: nowadays, “eco-moms” are getting together to trade tips on how to save the environment. NBC’s Janet Shamlian reports.

Link: Eco Moms Are Going Green

Colorado Making Plastic Bags Passe?

Vail Daily 04.05.08Colorado
Will “paper or plastic?” soon follow “smoking or non-smoking?” onto the list of once-ubiquitous, now-obsolete questions? Could be if others follow the lead of Durango Natural Foods, which earlier this month announced that, starting in May, it will phase out plastic bags and charge 20 cents for paper bags. Durango supermarkets trying to get customers to bring their own bags…

Link: Colorado Making Plastic Bags Passe?

Ikea To Nix All Disposable Bags by Oct. 2008

Los Angeles Times 04.03.08

As of Oct. 2008, IKEA will no longer offer disposable plastic bags at checkout. No, paper bags won't replace the plastic bags. Customers will need to bring their own bag, buy an IKEA reusable bag for 59 cents, or go bagless.

Link: Ikea To Nix All Disposable Bags by Oct. 2008

VIDEO CLIP: Plastic Beaches & Plastic Sand - Yikes!

KHNL NBC Channel 8, Honolulu, HI 11.09.07Khnl_plasticbeach

When our founder was in Hawaii last March, he heard the locals talking about the advent of “Plastic Beaches”. What he learned from them was shocking: a once pristine beach on the southern tip of Hawaii’s Big Island has deteriorated into a polluted mess. Heaps of plastic trash fragments (in places a foot deep) have accumulated here over the years due to the trade winds blowing directly on shore. As the plastic breaks down it is creating a new kind of sand – Plastic Sand. This video demonstrates the pervasive, persistent negative effects plastics are having on our earth. The growing phenomenon of Plastic Beaches and Plastic Sand are a visceral reminder of the downsides of society’s addiction to plastic stuff.

Our Take: We assume a few of you have heard about the “Texas-sized” Plastic Island” off California’s west coast, but how about the disturbing news of plastic beaches and plastic sand?! Plastic is accumulating at an alarming rate in our oceans -- wreaking havoc on wildlife, polluting our beaches and entering our food chain. Watch the video... 

Link: Big Island Beach Attracts Plastic Trash

Reusable Bags Only Good If You Use Them

Sacbee.com 03.10.08

"After Earth Day 2007, the (reusable) bags turned up on everyone's list as one of the top ways to save the environment," says Vincent Cobb, founder of the Chicago-based Reusablebags.com, a line of eco-friendly products that includes grocery totes and produce bags. "They're right up there with eco-friendly water bottles and incandescent lights." And yes, using the bags is a good start, he adds, but not if you just buy them on a whim or out of guilt – and then don't use them. "It needs to become a habit," he says.

Link: Reusable Bags Only Good If You Use Them

The Pervasive Plastic Bag

Washington Post 04.07.08

We’ve all experienced frustration at the checkout counter when a bagger uses a different plastic bag for each item or even worse, double bags our groceries for “extra support”. Now that the practice of using reusable bags is catching on, it seems that the new common challenge is confusion at the checkout. Improved training on the part of stores will help, as will well-designed reusable bags that streamline the process.

Our Take: Several readers’ comments brought up the fact that the el cheapo “99 cent” reusable shopping bags have a tendency to fall apart --one of a number of problems associated with the explosion of “freebie” reusable shopping bags being produced by many retailers. Our advice is to resist accumulating cheap bags and invest in a handful of well-designed, attractive, durable ones that you will actually use for years to come.

Link: The Pervasive Plastic Bag

VIDEO CLIP: Plastic Bag Animals

ReusableBags.com 04.10.08

Thanks to friend of ReusableBags.com, Dave S. for turning us on to this clever artist, Joshua Allen Harris. He has crafted inflatable animals by tying plastic bags to subway grates in New York. The effect is very cool and a bit haunting. 

Lobbying, Legal Threats Turn Prohibitions Into Voluntary Recycling Drives

MSNBC 03.14.08

The movement to curb plastic bag use and production is gaining in popularity because of cities like San Francisco-  the first US city to prohibit large stores from distributing disposable plastic bags. Now the plastics industry is fighting tooth and nail to prevent the trend from spreading across the United States.  Many attempts at bans have already been prevented, usually ending up as voluntary recycling drives instead.

Our Take: While recycling has its place, recycling won’t solve the problem… An item that really stood out in this article was the shocking information that an amendment prohibiting local governments from imposing fees on plastic bags was snuck into an otherwise benign mandatory recycling law passed in California. This is a bold move we assume will be overturned at some point …

Link: Lobbying, Legal Threats Turn Prohibitions Into Voluntary Recycling Drives

AUDIO CLIP: Manufacturers Push Biodegradable Plastic Bags

npr, All Things Considered 04.07.08

Npr_logo1_3As more and more cities and states consider plastic bag bans and tax proposals, companies are beginning to weigh their options. Biodegradable plastic bags are designed to quickly break down. But where does the plastic go?... The story also cites a staggering statistic: every year US plastic bag consumption = nine billion pounds. Listen to story…

Our Take: The plastic polymers are still there, but they are out of sight! These may become a popular choice for big brand companies/marketers looking to reduce negative exposure when their bags are hooked in trees and laying on sidewalks. While on the surface biodegradable bags may seem like a good idea, there’s a host of problems associated with them (e.g.  A proliferation of biodegradable plastic bags will really sc
rew up recycling efforts, they don’t get at the heart of the problem: consumption, etc. – click here for more…) This is a perfect example of a seemingly good idea that truly does more harm than good.)
Link: Manufacturers Push Biodegradable Plastic Bags


Plastic Bag Bans Gaining Momentum Around the World

National Geographic News 04.04.08Categoryimages_thumbs_national_geog

 Across the globe politicians and corporations are debating the effectiveness of plastic bag bans versus plastic bag taxes. Ireland, Italy and Belgium all tax plastic sacks, while places like San Francisco and China are banning them all together. Other countries and companies are implementing or considering recycling programs. Each attempt to deal with the issue has its pros and cons. According to Vincent Cobb, founder of ReusableBags.com, the movement has gained momentum. “We all have the tendency to buy too much stuff, and I think the symbolic nature is what has made this such a powerful thing.”

Our Take: Our founder was interviewed for this article – here is a quote: “A tax charged at checkout is what we need to change consumer behavior. Plastic bags aren’t inherently bad; it’s the mindlessness and volume of consumption.”

Link: Plastic Bag Bans Gaining Momentum Around the World 

Seattle Officials Propose 20-cent Grocery Bag Fee

The Seattle Times 04.03.08Ap_plastic_bag_080229_mn

Using Ireland’s successful plastic bag tax as a model, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels is proposing a 20 cent “green fee” on all disposable bags. The proposed fee is the first of its kind in the nation made by a mayor striving for a legacy of environmental stewardship. If the City Council approves, the fee would go into effect January 1. In an effort to ease the transition, the city will mail one reusable shopping bag to each household.

Our Take: Kudos to Mayor Nickels! This is big news – we’ve been laying down the challenge to US politicians for several years to take the bold move and implement a Plastax modeled initiative. (For the record San Francisco did attempt a “loosely” based model in 2005 which failed.) With Ireland’s disposable-bag use down 90 percent, Seattle is on the right track. Plastic industry interests will work hard to derail this since in all likelihood it will start a trend…it will be interesting to see what happens. What do you think?

Link: Seattle Officials Propose 20-cent Grocery Bag Fee