However, I wanted to take this opportunity to explain the facts about bag bans and taxes so local legislators do not feel pressured to follow in the footsteps of their San Jose counterparts.
As director of sustainability and marketing for Hilex Poly, an American manufacturer and recycler of plastic bags, I understand the impact of legislation on the local environment, consumers, and economy. The facts show that bans and taxes are the wrong decision.
If a plastic bag ban or tax goes into effect, it would hurt the environment. According to an APCO study, 90 percent of American households reuse some of their plastic bags for bin liners, household chores, pet waste and more. Yet, a ban or tax on plastic bags would force consumers to buy garbage bags and other items that are heavier and thicker than grocery bags and use more energy to manufacture.
While some shoppers believe that reusable bags are a better choice, reusables come with a serious caveat for the environment and for consumer health. Not only are reusable bags not recyclable and have a higher carbon footprint to manufacture, but unwashed reusable bags can carry harmful bacteria, such as salmonella, which can cause foodborne illness.
Dr. Charles P. Gerba, a leading microbiologist at the University of Arizona, conducted a study which found that 50 percent of reusable bags contained food-borne bacteria and 12 percent of reusable bags contained E. coli. Consumers are forced to confront these startling statistics when a plastic bag ban or tax takes effect.
Our industry is an American industry, supporting 2,000 jobs in California alone. Legislation would negatively impact these Californian jobs, which are increasingly important during this fragile economic time. A bag ban or tax serves only to hurt jobs, push consumers to shop in neighboring cities without legislation and, in turn, will negatively impact local businesses and the local economy.
After all, plastic bags are 100 percent reusable and recyclable. Instead of eliminating the jobs of hardworking employees, why not take a new look at plastic bags and create recycling initiatives that make it easier for consumers to recycle plastic bags. For example, Hilex has 30,000 plastic bag recycling drop-off bins across the country for consumers to bring plastic bags, wraps and sacks for recycling.
Rather than bans or taxes, Hilex Poly believes in commonsense legislation that supports local recycling initiatives that do not punish the environment, consumer or economy.
If you would like to learn more about plastic bag legislation in Los Gatos, Saratoga or Campbell and across the country, please visit the Learn the Facts pages and interactive map available on BagtheBan.com.