Could Federal Bill Lead to Death of Plastic Bags?
By Laura Beans
According to Bag Monster, a bill is under consideration that would regulate single-use plastic bags in the U.S.
On Earth Day, the bill, Trash Reduction Act of 2013, was introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives. If passed, the bill would place a five-cent fee on single-use plastic and paper bags in every retail location across the country.
“According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American throws away about 4.4 pounds of trash each day. The results of this waste can be found in our oceans," said Rep. Moran (D-VA), who announced the introduction of the bill. "Small steps like replacing plastic bags with reusable ones yields large returns in reducing the amount of trash we create.”
The bill is modeled after Washington, D.C.’s disposable bag fee, which, since 2010, has reduced plastic bag usage from a monthly average of 22.5 million to 3 million bags. All revenue generated from the fee would be used to support the nation’s Land and Water Conservation Fund.
The U.S. International Trade Commission reported that 102 billion plastic bags were used in the U.S. in 2009. As plastic items break down, any toxic additives they contain—including flame retardants, antimicrobials and plasticizers—can be released into the environment. Many of these chemicals may disrupt the endocrine system—the delicately balanced set of hormones and glands that affect virtually every organ and cell in the bodies of humans and animals. In marine environments, excess estrogen has led to discoveries of male fish and seagulls with female sex organs.
Plastic bags never biodegrade, and according to the Central Coast Sanctuary Alliance, the plastic bags that do get recycled can clog and slow sorting machines, making them a costly and inconvenient setback for recycling centers.
Stiv J. Wilson, of the 5 Gyres Institute, underscores the enduring damage perpetuated by our ravenous use of plastic bags in his introduction to a new video, Plastic Bags Are Forever:
One of the major barriers to implementing common sense plastic bag policies is that the plastic bag industry will often cite Life Cycle Analysis (LCAs) studies that only use carbon output as a measure of pollution, comparing paper and plastic. There is no attention given to the affect on marine life, nor the implications for human health as the apex predator of a marine food system (we eat fish that eat plastic that absorbs toxins). There is also no attention given to the fact that plastic bags do not biodegrade in the marine environment.
It's clear that the issue is much more complicated than the plastic bag industry will lead us to believe as evidenced by the footage used to make the following public service announcement. But even the argument stating plastic is less carbon emission intensive than paper falls apart when we look at what's isn't included in the existing LCAs. For example, the feedstock for plastic bags is ethylene, a byproduct obtained from natural gas refining.
The carbon footprint of obtaining the natural gas isn't considered in the LCAs either. Fracking, which emits methane, an incredibly potent greenhouse gas, accounts for 35 percent of the natural gas obtained in the U.S. With worldwide recycling of plastic bags decreasing and consumption increasing, more and more plastic bags are accumulating in the world's rivers, watersheds and oceans.
Visit EcoWatch’s WATER page for more related news on this topic.
SIGN THIS PETITION TODAY:
By Julia Conley
A federal judge in Washington, D.C. late Sunday struck down the Trump administration's proposed changes to the SNAP benefits program, potentially saving hundreds of thousands of people from losing badly needed federal food assistance.
<div id="e8d44" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="be49aabc36a5465eed30ca54f88f6b2d"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1318171686232096772" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">A judge has ruled in our favor and blocked the Trump administration’s unlawful changes to SNAP. This decision is… https://t.co/5zeTafxMLm</div> — NY AG James (@NY AG James)<a href="https://twitter.com/NewYorkStateAG/statuses/1318171686232096772">1603111595.0</a></blockquote></div>
<div id="f47ab" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="381daa45528adda7398d5628d047294f"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1318175677724676096" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">There's a lot of competition for Vilest Policy Ever, but slashing food stamps during a pandemic that's causing mass… https://t.co/EYvb0C8Q3m</div> — Tamar Haspel (@Tamar Haspel)<a href="https://twitter.com/TamarHaspel/statuses/1318175677724676096">1603112546.0</a></blockquote></div>
<div id="946d8" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="3cff2dc2643fc55ab21d2a73881c7de8"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1318168614541950976" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Trump: yes to Space Force, no to Food Stamps. Another equation that might be remembered in a few weeks. https://t.co/9IEDBaMy2o</div> — Matt Taibbi (@Matt Taibbi)<a href="https://twitter.com/mtaibbi/statuses/1318168614541950976">1603110862.0</a></blockquote></div><p>"Trump: yes to Space Force, no to Food Stamps," Taibbi tweeted.</p>
- Trump Wants to Replace Food Stamps With Food Packages ... ›
- Trump Complains Puerto Rico Getting 'Too Much' Disaster Aid as ... ›
- Trump USDA Resumes Effort to Cut Food Stamp Benefits - EcoWatch ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Andrea Germanos
A group of Indigenous women and their allies on Monday urged the heads of major global financial institutions to stop propping up the tar sands industry and sever all ties with the sector's "climate-wrecking pipelines, as well as the massively destructive extraction projects that feed them."
- Global Banks, Led by JPMorgan Chase, Invested $1.9 Trillion in ... ›
- Keystone XL Pipeline Construction to Forge Ahead During ... ›
Poor eating habits, lack of exercise, genetics, and a bunch of other things are known to be behind excessive weight gain. But, did you know that how much sleep you get each night can also determine how much weight you gain or lose?
In January of 2019, a concerned citizen in Marion County, Florida noticed something strange: Someone was trapping flying squirrels.
The process of preparing and mixing a baby bottle formula seems innocuous, but new research finds this common occurrence is actually releasing millions of microplastic particles from the bottle's lining, Wired reported.
- Microplastics Found in Human Organs for First Time - EcoWatch ›
- Microplastics Are Raining Down on Cities - EcoWatch ›
- People Eat 50,000+ Microplastics Every Year, New Study Finds ... ›