46 posts categorized "Plastics Industry"

March 30, 2011

Plastic: Too Good to Throw Away

New York Times 3.23.11

18opedimg-popup Persistently avoiding plastic may seem key to combating over-consumption and the production of plastic-based materials, but, in reality, the issue is far more complex. In a recent Op-Ed piece, Susan Freinkel, a New York Times contributor and author of the forthcoming book Plastic: A Toxic Love Story, dispels the common misconception that suggests shunning plastic and settling for bag bans and fees will drastically alter the ethos of our culture.

Instead, Freinkel advocates for shifting the public perception of plastic as cheap and worthless to durable and profitable by eliminating its presence in disposables.

 Check out our "I'm not a . . ." or "Thank you" series, which offer affordable, sustainable alternatives to use-and-toss disposables like plastic bottles and bags.

To read the full article, click here.

Image: www.nytimes.com

March 22, 2011

Bangalore: Plastic Bag Ban Remains Ineffective

Expressbuzz.com 3.17.11

2011031763900301 Bangalore, a city in south central India, recently implemented a ban on plastic bags of less than 40 microns that seems to have little effect on Bangaloreans. According to the notification from Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB), March 15 was the deadline for banning such bags; but city folks were seen carrying bags of even less than 20 microns despite the ordinance. 

“Since a 40-50 micron bag costs more than a 20 micron-thick plastic bag, demand is always higher for the latter from medicine shops and small retailers,” according to a small scale plastic manufacturing unit owner as reported by Sohini Das

The previous provision focused on a thickness limit of 20 microns, but now the recent Plastic Handling Rules of 2011 mandates that manufacturers do not produce plastic below 40 microns in thickness. Without proper enforcement and continual awareness, shop-owners and consumers remain resistant to the newly modified ban.

Check out the full article here

Check out our stance on fees vs. bans here.

Image: Hindu.com

China, Malaysia and Czech Republic Become Latest Nations to Ban BPA

GreenBiz.com 3.15.11

Detskelahvegrafika China, Malaysia and the Czech Republic have joined the list of countries setting bans on the notorious endocrine-mimicking chemical Bisphenol-A, which has been linked in lab tests to a wide range of health issues. However, the rationale behind the ban is arguably diminished by an erroneous compromise: Baby bottles will go, but cups, plastic food containers, receipts and the linings of tin cans containing BPA will remain available to the public. Only items with a higher probablility of exposure in children and infants are being targeted.

China's Ministry of Health announced it plans to ban any BPA-containing baby bottles or other food and drink items for children, but has no start date as of now, reported Shanghai Daily. Malaysia's ban on baby bottles made with BPA begins next March; and in order to comply with a European directive, the Czech Republic must recall polycarbonate baby bottles containing BPA as of June 1, 2011.

The Centers for Disease Control says 93-percent of us have BPA in our bodies.

To read the full article, click here.

Image: czechposition.com 

March 15, 2011

New Trade Organization for Sustainable Packaging

TreeHugger.com 3.10.11

Cola Packaging In order to facilitate sustainable packaging, prominent companies such as Coca-Cola, Colgate-Palmolive, DuPont, Dow Chemical, Kellogg's and others have formed a trade organization that will help the packaging industry maximize initiatives through relevant research and data collection. The Michigan-based institution, American Institution for Packaging and the Environment (Ameripen), will advocate science-based decision making by partnering with academic institutions, trade associations, non-profits and government agencies, according to Environmental Leader.

Earth911.com reports that packaging and containers contribute to approximately 56 percent of all plastic waste and about 75 percent of waste from residential households. As some of the most ubiquitously used product lines adopt more eco-friendly practices, we are one step closer to becoming a more sustainable economy.

To read the full article, click here.

Image: Treehugger.com

January 13, 2011

Italy bans the bag in 2011

Treehugger.com 1.3.11

Italy-Ban-Plastic-Bags Earlier this month Italy took a dramatic step to reduce its consumption of single- use, non-biodegradable plastic bags – use of such bags is now banned as of New Year’s Day. According to several reports, Italy was one of Europe’s top plastic bag consumers – using about 1/5th of the 100 billion bags used annually across Europe.  

Despite opposition from some retailers who argue that biodegradable bags are too expensive and not as durable, similar bans in other countries have proven successful. According to Treehugger, China’s bag ban has kept 100 billion bags out of the landfill since its inception two years ago.

Bag fees have also proved successful over the years – from Washington DC’s recent 5 cent fee to Ireland’s PlasTax back in 2002.

While we applaud Italy’s effort to curb wasteful consumption of plastic shopping bags, we continue to advocate plastic bag fees and taxes over bans for the following reasons:

  1. Fees are market-based solutions that get people to change their consumption habits – and with a nudge not a shove. Even small, 5-cent fees make a huge impact.
  2. Fees are practical for the consumer.
  3. There is evidence that fees can be adopted in the U.S., and they work! We have an example of a major city (D.C.) reducing consumption of use-and-toss bags by 80% with a small fee.
  4. The money collected from fees can go directly toward addressing the problem.
  5. If you don’t like the idea of your money going to fatten government coffers, no problem. Bring your own bag, and they don’t get a dime.

Read more about our stance on fees vs bans here.

Read the full Treehugger article here.

Image: Guardian

December 07, 2010

BPA exposure may lead to pregnancy difficulties

Mouse-science-diabetes Discovery 12.2.10

A study published this month in Environmental Health Perspectives focuses on the affect endocrine-disrupting chemical(and popular water bottle/receipt additive) Bisphenol-A has on the reproductive abilities of mammals over the course of their lifetime. While the study focused on mice, researchers believe the results may lead to further concern for humans in contact with the ubiquitous substance.

The study involved allowing a selection of female mice to become pregnant. At that point, the pregnant mice were separated and given BPA-containing solutions. The concentration of BPA in these solutions ranged from miniscule amounts to a mouse-sized version of the human dose. A control group was given none.

These different groups of mice were then allowed to continue breeding throughout their lifespan to see how the amount of BPA would affect their ability to breed.

Within four months, litters of those given the BPA solution had shrank by 25%, and the frequency of pregnancies was also notably lower.

Read more about it at Discovery.

November 19, 2010

TED talk: Are mushrooms the new plastic?

TED.com 10.4.10

In July, Eben Bayer gave a speech at an Oxford TED conference detailing how his company turns agricultural waste into truly biodegradable packing material. How biodegradable? It's literally grown from a fungus.

Polystyrene (or styrofoam, as many know it) is commonly used to pack delicate hardware and breakables for shipping; When it degrades in nature, it releases carcinogens. If adopted for widespread use, Bayer's packing material could reduce the production and disposal of polystyrene immensely.


November 18, 2010

ACC Helps Block BPA Legislation

 New York Times  11.17.10         

Just yesterday, the American Chemistry Council successfully mobilized Republicans to block a pending food safety bill attempting to limit the use of BPA in baby bottles and dinking cups.

The bill would allow a six-month grace period for baby item manufacturers to cease use of the endocrine-disrupting chemical.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, expressed consternation, positing that the ACC’s choice to block the bill placed potential monetary gain over the health of our nations infants.

Read the whole article at The New York Times.

October 14, 2010

FTC Combats Greenwashing

Ftc-issues-new-labelling-guidelines-for-ecofriendly-products-bkt_5488 Inc. 10.7.2010

The Federal Trade Commission recently revised guidelines for products being labelled as "degradable," "eco-friendly," or "recyclable."

This is part of an effort to put an end to the disparity between what companies and consumers consider an environmentally-friendly product. Any label making such claims will have to be able to back up such declaration with "competant and reliable scientific evidence."

The FTC will be able to take action if it considers a company's marketing to be deceptive or flat-out untrue. This would initially come in the form of a cease-and-desist order, which becomes a fine with further violations.

Check out the whole article on Inc.com.


September 21, 2010

Greener Polycarbonate Production

BPAfreeBottles Researchers from the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology in Singapore have developed a new method of polycarbonate production that could be used to manufacture BPA-free bottles in the near future.

The bottles would be non-toxic and leach-free, plus the production method would literally take greenhouse gasses out of the air and use them as ingredients to create the bottles. The new polycarbonate can contain 40% C02 by volume. Read the full article here.

Our Take: While this new technology is only in its infancy, the adoption of such green-friendly practices by companies such as Eastman-Tritan(link to Eastman Tritan FAQ) would mark notable progress to reducing our carbon footprint, and another reason to feel good about using a high-quality reusable bottle.

May 27, 2009

A new health threat: Eco-friendly bags

Chicago Tribune 5.27.09

Your eco-friendly shopping bag could be making you sick, a study says. But before you switch back to plastic, you might want to consider the source.

An overly alarming 15-page paper, published on the Web site for Canada's Environment and Plastics Industry Council, concluded that reusable grocery bags are "a breeding ground for bacteria and pose a public health risk" because of high counts of yeast, molds and bacteria. Download the study here.

Our Take:
  What a joke! The plastics industry just won't stop twisting science and sounding false-alarms to justify our plastic addiction. A great level-headed article from the Tribune that turns a critical eye towards this campaign of misinformation, which many journalists simply regurgitate (one of the inflammatory articles we saw on this industry-funded study was titled "Reusable Grocery Bags May Poison You" - no joke).
Common sense practices like washing your reusable bag and using plastic when worried about leakage can reduce contaminants. When you're choosing a reusable shopping bag, avoid the cheap ones and steer towards high quality, durable bags that withstand washing. In countries like Australia and Ireland, reusable bags have once again become a part of daily life and they haven't experienced any of these health concerns.

Link: A new health threat: Eco-friendly bags

February 18, 2009

Santa Monica: City Council delays ban on single-use plastic bags

Argonaut The Argonaut 1.29.09

The Santa Monica City Council was set to adopt an ordinance earlier this month banning single-use plastic bags from all retail establishments in the city, but postponed taking action…

A day before the meeting, the city received a 17-page letter from Stephen Joseph, an attorney representing SaveThePlasticBag.com, which is an association of plastic bag manufacturers and related businesses, stating its intent to file a lawsuit against the city after the ban is passed…

Link: Santa Monica: City Council delays ban on single-use plastic bags

January 08, 2009

Clemson research boosts biodegradable plastics

GreenvilleOnline.com 12.29.08

The plastic bottles you are drinking from could soon be made from corn instead of petroleum, with research at Clemson University making biodegradable plastic more applicable for widespread uses, experts say…

Although the plastic is biodegradable, it’s not necessarily as simple as throwing a bottle onto a compost heap…

Our Take:  Bio-plastics are a promising invention for replacing some plastics. But an obvious downside – it still take significant natural resources to grow and process the corn to create the plastic. Overall, reducing consumption and using reusable items to replace our disposables addiction is a smart thing we can all do right now that will have a huge impact.

Link: Clemson research boosts biodegradable plastics

October 22, 2008

Dallas council refuses to tax or ban plastic shopping bags

The Dallas Morning News 10.14.08Dallas_news_2

The City Council appears unlikely to tax and ultimately ban plastic shopping bags, despite a recommendation from staffers that Dallas do away with them for environmental reasons...

The plan [Eric Griffin, interim director of the city’s Office of Environmental Quality] suggested involved seeking state authority to levy a fee of 5 cents per bag on consumers in Dallas to initiate a ban in three to five years if the fee did not substantially reduce the number of bags used.

Our Take:

Dallas would have joined the likes of Ireland in passing a bag fee – the most successful government initiative to overconsumption of plastic and paper bags. As in Seattle, industry interests are effectively squashing the issue with misinformation and money, and legislators aren’t fighting back – whether because of a lack of resources or simply feeling overpowered.

They’re missing out: Ireland's PlasTax cut plastic bag consumption by 90% and generated $9.6 million in its first year alone, earmarked to improve the environment. Talk about a win-win (or in this case, a lose-lose).

Link: Dallas council refuses to tax or ban plastic shopping bags

October 15, 2008

Recyclers are cashing in on the fortune in your bin

Times Online 08.11.08Times_online_7

The price of recyclable plastic, newspaper and cardboard has doubled in 18 months, giving councils a source of “green gold” that could be spent on improving local services. Many are locked into 20 to 30-year contracts with recycling companies and are unable to cash in on the higher cost of plastic and copper...

This year alone the rising cost of oil – used to make plastic – has pushed prices of domestic rubbish even higher. The sale price of mixed plastic bottles has nearly tripled to £230 a tonne in the past six months. Six years ago it was £10 per tonne.

Our Take:  Part of a growing trend of legislation (still outside the U.S. mainly) that takes aim at disposable items often perceived as free. Hopefully, more cities will continue targeting the wasteful over-consumption of food containers and paper cups. 

Link: Recyclers are cashing in on the fortune in your bin

August 06, 2008

VIDEO CLIP: Plastics are Forever

The Cleanest Line - Patagonia, 08.05.08

Maui native Micah Wolf teams up with the Algalita Marine Research Foundation and photographer Ben Moon to create this powerful music video that empowers us to do something about the amount of plastics in our oceans.

Plastic Island - Nasty, Gargantuan & Growing

ReusableBags.com, 08.01.08 Latimes_alteredoceans_3

A couple of websites recently caught our attention, each detailing the Sci-Fi-esque (but very real) floating plastic island located approximately 500 nautical miles off the California coast. "The island" is a grotesquely large patch of floating plastic trash held together by currents stretching across the northern Pacific almost as far as Japan. Discovered by Charles Moore, this "plastic island" is made up of about 7 billion pounds of plastic garbage.

Sea preserves a plastic plague - LA Times 08.03.07

The LA Times produced a fantastic five-part multimedia series on the state of our altered oceans. Part four delves into the “plastic island”, officially called a gyre. This disturbing presentation features great videos, haunting photography and lots of helpful information.
Link: Sea preserves a plastic plague

Plastic patch in pacific grows to twice the size of the US - Daily Kos 02.06.08

Another great site investigating this mess is the Daily Kos. They feature an interview with Marcus Eriksen, one of the research directors at the Algalita Marine Research Foundation (the same folks sailing the “Junk Raft”). Eriksen said: "The original idea that people had was that it was an island of plastic garbage that you could almost walk on. It is not quite like that. It is almost like a plastic soup. It is endless for an area that is maybe twice the size as continental United States."
Link: Plastic patch in pacific grows to twice the size of the US

The trash vortex - Greenpeace International 11.12.06Greenpeace_trash_vortex

Greenpeace created this cool, simple visual explaining “the island”—“Plastic trash and other flotsam that is either directly thrown or washed by rivers into the North Pacific, is swept up by the currents of a gigantic swirling vortex called the North Pacific Gyre. In the centre, the calm, just northeast of Hawai’i the result is a trash carpet that scientists calculate has now reached the size of Texas.”
Link: The Trash Vortex

Our Take: There is a similarity between this huge plastic island in the middle of the ocean and the enormity of plastic bag consumption. Scientists can't agree on the size of "the island" just like no one knows exactly how many plastic bags are being produced and consumed. The one thing everyone agrees on is that the scale of both is huge and deserves our attention. This "island" is the direct effect of our overconsumption. By achieving a significant reduction in use-and-toss items, we can actually make a difference. 

August 02, 2008

City council approves bag fee, foam ban

The Seattle Times, 07.29.08Seattletimes_bag_fee_approved_2 

On Monday, the City Council [of Seattle] approved a 20-cent fee, starting in January, for each disposable paper or plastic bag used at grocery, drug and convenience stores. While other U.S. cities have banned plastic bags, Seattle is believed to be the first to discourage use by charging a fee. Although the new fee may force Seattle residents to permanently alter their shopping habits, council members said the environmentally correct behavior will become natural, just like recycling.

The city plans to give at least one free, reusable bag to each household, and the council directed Seattle Public Utilities to come up with a plan by the end of November on how to provide extra bags to low-income residents.

Our Take: This is major news. Seattle is the first U.S. city to follow Ireland's lead in implementing a successful plastic bag fee model. We are confident that Seattle residents will alter their shopping habits quickly - reusable shopping bags will become an integrated part of life in the Emerald City and plastic bag overconsumption will disappear. Seattle City Councilmember, Tim Burgess said it best - "I think that after a few months of legislation, we will wonder what all the fuss is about."

Watch for the plastic bag industry to violently attack this fee based model since it represents the beginning of a paradigm shift.

Link: City council approves bag fee, foam ban

July 30, 2008

Evil Incarnate - Plastic Bag News and Action Alert

Spoutingoff_2Spouting Off, 07.29.08

Support California's landmark legislation to reduce plastic bag consumption—and fight industry's spin to "save the plastic bag"

The American Chemistry Council and plastic bag manufacturers have joined forces to launch a web and radio campaign to stop California’s proposed plastic bag fee, modeled after Ireland’s hugely successful Plastax initiative. Basically, the campaign distorts the facts and scares Californians into thinking the legislation will cost them more money, when the reverse is true.

We just found out about this and here's what we plan to do to support California's policy and help them be a model for cities across the U.S.:

-Post the excellent blog that alerted us to this development in our Newsroom, which gets more than 250,000 unique visitors a month, and add it to our Top Stories Newsletter, which has 8,000 subscribers.

-Point people towards the action alert to support California’s Plastic Bag and Litter Reduction Act (AB 2058).

-Inspire people from all states to tell their Senators to address the issue of plastic bag pollution! Use the form letters provided here to contact your state legislators.

The American Chemistry Council is using scare tactics and twisted facts on the issue of plastic bags because they don't have a leg to stand on. They're feigning concern about rapid deforestation, should consumers kick the plastic-bag addiction and replace it with paper bags, totally (and conveniently) ignoring the very viable solution of reusable bags.

YES, WE’LL HAVE TO FIGHT to get the real facts out there: Taxpayers DO shoulder the costs of plastic bags in countless ways. Recycling of plastic bags is a paltry 5%, at best. And paper is no better an alternative. It's time to wake up and focus on long-term solutions, not spin. Click here to learn more about the plastic bag issue.

Link: Action Alert to support California's Plastic Bag and Litter Reduction Act

July 24, 2008

VIDEO CLIP: The Dangers of Plastic Bags

ReusableBags.com 07.23.08

Late last week, a fantastic slide show making its way around the internet caught our eye. Using a potent combination of facts and images, it tells the story of plastic bag over-consumption we first laid out at our web site five years ago. Its short, visual format provides an incredible tool to educate and inform.                    

We liked the slide show so much, we hustled to:

  1. Convert and post it as an easy-to-view video on YouTube, opening it up to millions worldwide.
  2. Discover who produced it and give them credit. It turns out to be a fellow Chicagoan! Vishal Mody - a public school teacher.
  3. Share it with you, our 80,000+ newsletter subscribers, and post it in our Newsroom.

Please take just 4 minutes to watch it and help spread the word!

June 25, 2008

US mayors vote to phase out bottled water consumption

International Herald Tribune, 06.23.08 Iht_logo 

Making international news on Monday, 250 US mayors voted to put an end to using taxpayer money to purchase bottled water for its employees and functions. This is bad news for the likes of Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc., who have enjoyed a steady increase in sales the last few years. Bottled water requires vast amounts of petroleum to produce—both in the manufacturing of the bottles and in the shipping process.

Our Take: Well done US mayors! While critics of the resolution call it “sound-bite environmentalism”, we say it’s leading by example. Encouraging employees and in so doing, citizens, to drink tap water (which is held to higher standards than bottled water) is a great step toward changing the minds of the masses. We think Gigi Kellett from Corporate Accountability International said it best: “It’s just plain common sense for cities to stop padding the bottled water industry’s bottom line at taxpayer expenses.” What do you think?

Link: US mayors vote to phase out bottled water consumption 

June 24, 2008

AUDIO CLIP: India cow killer bagged, but deaths continue

npr, 06.09.08

Npr_cow_death_picture_2 A group of very ill cows was taken to a local veterinary hospital, anaesthetized and surgically examined. It turned out, says Indian journalist Subhash Mishra, that inside their stomachs was an extraordinary number of plastic bags. "More than 50, 60 bags," per cow, he recalls. Listen to story…
Link: India cow killer bagged, but deaths continue

AUDIO CLIP: Beach cleanup tally: 6 million pounds of trash

npr, 04.19.08

Npr_logo1_3The Ocean Conservancy recently released the results from their worldwide beach clean-up effort last September and the numbers are shocking. The majority of items found? Single use disposable plastic items such as plastic bags, Styrofoam containers, etc. 6 million pounds of garbage were removed from beaches that day—it doesn’t even scratch the surface of the total amount of trash in our oceans. “An Environmental Activist talks about where this trash came from and what can be done about it.” 

Our Take: While 6 million pounds sounds like a lot, it barely makes a dent in the sum total of garbage floating out there. The effort is significant, however, because it raises awareness on the issue and gives us more insight to the primary culprits. Listen to story…

Link: Beach cleanup tally: 6 million pounds of trash

VIDEO CLIP: China bans free plastic bags

CNN, 06.01.08
China recently fulfilled its January pledge to ban free plastic bags. CNN gives us a glimpse into both the new system of charging for disposable plastic bags and the depressing effects of the culprits being free and plentiful for dozens of years.

Our Take: We hope other countries will follow China’s lead. Charging for plastic bags will help to change consumer habits over time – Ireland has the proof after their hugely successful Plastax produced a 90% drop in consumption. What do you think?

Click here to watch the video: China bans free plastic bags 

IKEA bags the plastic

The Courant, 06.12.08
Last March, IKEA began charging 5 cents for each plastic bag with the hopes of reducing usage by 50 percent. Last month, they announced that not only is the fee working, they have experienced a 92 percent drop in usage.

Our Take: Our congratulations to IKEA for being a strong leader in a sea of mindless consumption. They see that use-and-toss shopping bags—whether plastic or paper—are at the heart of the issue. This is more evidence that fees work. We are proud to have helped inspire them to take this bold step and hope that other retailers will follow suit.  What do you think?

Link: IKEA bags the plastic 

Eco-trendiness is in the bag

Daily Breeze, 06.17.08
As reusable bags continue down the path from obscure eco-crusader tool to trendy fashion accessory, the debate continues on what to do about all those plastic bags. Some say bans are the answer; others claim that recycling will solve the problem. Vincent Cobb of reusablebags.com argues that the behavior we need to change is the mindless overconsumption of use-and-toss items.

Link: Eco-trendiness is in the bag

Consumers turn to cloth and canvas bags instead of plastic

Journal and Courier, 05.25.08

Vincent Cobb, founder and president of www.reusablebags.com based in downtown Chicago, is not a fan of the newfound trendiness of reusable bags. "The heart of the problem is that people are consuming too much," he said. "The problem with the free bags or the 99 cent bag is people have a tendency to accumulate them and not use them." He advised shoppers to purchase a high-quality bag that will last.

Link: Consumers turn to cloth and canvas bags instead of plastic

May 23, 2008

Being green is in the bag when it’s shoved down our throats

The Seattle Times, Opinion, 05.14.08

So Seattle says: "I am greener than Longview and Tacoma and smarter than San Francisco. I will tax both kinds of disposable bag, pocket the money and make my citizens use a cloth bag."

I don't want to use a cloth bag. I don't want to carry the bag to the store, and I don't want to limit my shopping to the capacity of my bag.

What if I want to buy more? I can pay the 20 cents, but it is a punishment tax, a city-wagging-its-finger-at-me tax: bad, bad, bad.

Link: Being green is in the bag when it’s shoved down our throats

Bag the plastic and get used to the reusable

Daily Herald, 04.23.08 Daily_herald_bag_the_plastic

Plastic bags have become a target of the environmental movement, and with good reason: Plastic bags aren't biodegradable. Instead, they break down into smaller and smaller toxic particles that contaminate both soil and water, and can enter the food chain when animals accidentally ingest them. And according to the EPA, we use more than 100 billion plastic shopping bags every year.

Link: Bag the plastic and get used to the reusable 

New law forces stores to recycle plastic bags

Medill Reports Chicago, 05.20.08

Medill_logo_3 Grocery and drug stores in Chicago will soon be required to recycle plastic bags under an ordinance that passed the City Council Wednesday.
Shoppers can expect to see plastic bag recycling bins at retailers within the next six to nine months. Stores are responsible for making sure the plastic doesn't end up in landfills. Noncompliance can result in a daily fine of $500.

Link: New law forces stores to recycle plastic bags 

Too many holes poked in plastic bag law

Chicago Sun Times 05.08.08


Mike Nowak of the Chicago Recycling Coalition referred to the latest version as “New York lite” and a “swing and a miss.” He questioned why the Best Buys and Office Depots of the world were exempt.
“This is a first step. But let us not forget that the blue bag program was a first step that failed to produce a second step,” Nowak said.

Link: Too many holes poked in plastic bag law 

April 10, 2008

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

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 

March 05, 2008

Top China Plastic Bag Maker Closes Amid Green Drive

Environmental News Network 02.26.08 Medium_2

China's largest plastic bag maker has closed following a state-led environmental campaign discouraging plastics use, Xinhua news agency said on Tuesday.

China launched a surprise crackdown on plastic bags in January, banning production of ultra-thin bags and forbidding its supermarkets and shops from handing out free carrier bags from June 1.

Link: Top China plastic bag maker closes amid green drive

January 16, 2008

New York City Council Passes Bill for Recycling of Plastic Bags

New York Times 01.10.08

The New York City Council overwhelmingly passed a bill (44 to 2) requiring large stores and retail chains to collect and recycle plastic bags they give to shoppers.

Under the new bill, which had surprising support from Progressive Bag Affiliates, a trade group that represents most American makers of plastic bags, stores that give the bags to customers must provide recycling bins for the bags in a prominent place in the store. They will also have to ensure that the bags they distribute have printed messages urging customers to return them to stores. The legislation applies to stores of 5,000 square feet or larger, as well as all branches of chains with more than five locations in the city.

Our Take: It's no surprise to us that the plastic bag industry supports the bill. It's too bad that New York City's bill misses the mark by focusing on recycling. While helpful it won't fix the problem. This initiative doesn't hit at the heart of the matter which is to significantly reduce consumption (and capture external costs associated with plastic bags). The heart of real reform focuses on implementing tactics such as Ireland's Plastax.

Link: New York Times

September 20, 2007

Carrefour Announces 600,000 Reusable Bags Sold in Six Months

CNN.com 09.04.0744846carrefourbags

Carrefour's reusable bag campaign that was launched on February 26th, 2007 in the UAE, aimed at creating awareness on the impact of plastic bags that pollute the ecosystem and encouraging shoppers to reduce their use, has registered total sales of 600,000 reusable plastic bags.

Available at checkout counters as an alternative to plastic bags, the Carrefour reusable bag are sold at cost price. "If they are damaged at any point, the bags can be replaced at any Carrefour outlet free of charge," added Jean Luc Graziato, Vice President of Marketing and Sourcing at MAF Hypermarkets (Carrefour).

Our Take: Here is an example of a growing trend among retailers - virtually giving away massive quantities of cheap reusable bags (even plastic bags in this case!) as a major tactic to address the problem. There is a host of problems associated with these kinds of "freebies". The primary one being - are consumers actually going to use these cheap shopping bags or are they going to sit and start accumulating in people's closets? (This is what happened in Australia). In essence we've merely replaced one "use and toss" bag with another!  Our advice is to own a handful of attractive, high-quality, bags that you really like and will use. Looking for suggestions? Visit our store

Link: Carrefour Announces 600,000 Reusable Bags Sold in Six Months

July 27, 2007

First Lucky Store Opens in San Francisco and Introduces Stiffer, Sturdier, Recyclable Plastic Grocery Bags

Yahoo News 07.27.07

Lucky opened its first of 72 new stores in San Francisco this week and will introduce  reusable, recyclable plastic handle grocery bags, which are made from recycled plastic. The bags will retail for 25 cents each and will soon be available at all Lucky stores.

Our Take: With the popularity for reusable bags rising, we'll start to see more greenwashing by the retail industry. These reusable bags are actually produced by a plastic bag manufacturer, and made of only 20% recycled material. For some higher quality recycled bags, check out our recycled PET totes, made from 98% post-consumer recycled content!

Link: First Lucky Store Opens in San Francisco and Introduces Stiffer, Sturdier, Recyclable Plastic Grocery Bags

June 29, 2007

New Industry Coalition Launches Plastic Bag Recycling Program

PR Newswire 06.11.07

The Progressive Bag Alliance, the California Retailers Association and the California Grocers Association, announced the implementation of the nation's first statewide plastic bag recycling program. The bag manufacturing industry is partnering with the retail community to develop practical solutions for recycling and have designed a store "toolkit" to help retailers with public education, employee training and developing recycling systems.

Our Take: Big surprise here - the plastic bag industry's typical response. Let's just recycle all these plastic bags - that'll fix the problem. Wrong. Don't look to industry for solutions that hit at the heart of the matter which is significant consumption reduction (and taking responsibility for capturing external costs associated with plastic bags).

Link: New Industry Coalition Launches Plastic Bag Recycling Program

May 22, 2007

Marks & Spencer to charge for shopping bags in Northern Ireland store

BBC News 05.22.07

Shoppers will soon have to pay for plastic carrier bags in Marks and Spencer's 14 Northern Ireland stores. Chief executive Stuart Rose said local customers would be the first to have to pay five pence for a plastic bag during a trial period beginning in July. Marks and Spencer's shoppers would be given a free "bag for life" in the month preceding the trial. The move comes as part of Marks and Spencer's drive towards ethical trading and the promotion of healthy lifestyles.

Our Take: Following Ikea's recent announcement to charge for bags, another major retailer follows suit. Retailer initiatives like this, take a real stance on the plastic bag issue since they attempt to capture some of the hidden costs of "free" plastic bags and create incentives for customers to reduce their

Link: Marks & Spencers to charge for shopping bags in Northern Ireland store

September 03, 2006

Plastic industry sees double-digit growth in 2006

The Edge Daily

The plastics industry can expect a double-digit growth in sales this year if local plastic bag exporters are cleared of the European Union (EU) dumping charges, said Malaysian Plastics Manufacturers Association (MPMA) vice-president Charles Seow Thong Seng.

Link: Plastics industry sees double-digit growth in 2006.

April 12, 2006

Vendors battling price vise

Newspapers and Technology

The price hikes that vendors are passing through to newspapers aren’t likely to end anytime soon.

The first massive wave has already come from ink, plastics and prepress consumable suppliers. Agfa and Fujifilm unit Enovation Graphics are among the latest to announce price hikes in the United States, while Kodak Graphic Communications Group raised prepress consumables prices in its Europe and Greater Asia regions.

Vendors say they are squeezed by ever-escalating raw materials costs and can no longer hold back passing those increases onto their newspaper customers.

Consider the following:

*2005 aluminum costs neared $2,400 per ton, almost double 2003 prices, fueled in part by spot shortages.

*Silver hit $9.53 a troy ounce in February, doubling 2003 prices.

*Polyester feedstock for film rose 30 percent in the past three years.

*Polyethylene resin, used in plastic bags, rose 15 percent.

*Crude oil prices rose 30 percent in the past year and have tripled since 2001.

Link: Vendors battling price vise.

March 24, 2006

In praise of a hidden household hero

BBC News

Anger over plastic bags is misplaced, says Jane Bickerstaffe in The Green Room this week. Their environmental impact is negligible, she argues, and taxing them can cause more serious damage.

The humble and much maligned thin plastic carrier bag is at least as much a household hero as the pantomime villain it is often (mis)cast to be.

A recent UK government-funded initiative to look at ways to reduce use of thin bags found that people don't want more re-usable "Bags for Life" - they already have plenty in their homes - they just forget to take them to the shops!

Link: In praise of a hidden household hero.

October 10, 2003

Plastic Bag Fight Pits U.S. Makers V. U.S. Importers

Wall Street Journal

When fierce overseas competition forced a Sonoco Products Co. plastic bag-making business to close its Santa Maria, Calif., plant last year, ending 100 jobs, the company went on the offensive.

Sonoco and four other U.S. makers of plastic shopping bags, used by grocery and department stories, charged that manufacturers in China, Thailand and Malaysia were violating U.S. antidumping laws by selling the bags in the U.S. below cost.

U.S. manufacturers argue that plastic bags produced in the U.S. and Asia are the same quality, but that Internet bidding has forced the price down, allowing aggressive Asian companies to bid below their real cost. They say the Asian producers want to put the U.S. manufacturers out of business, seizing the U.S. market's 100 billion plastic bags a year.

Most retailers buy bags from Asia through distributors, and have been reluctant to involve themselves in the trade spat. But Target, the nation's second-largest retailer and one of the few companies to purchase the bulk of its 1.8 billion bags a year via the Internet, has come out swinging against the petition.

Link: Plastic Bag Fight Pits U.S. Makers V. U.S. Importers.