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Proof Positive It's Time to Ban Plastic Bags
By Bill Hickman
A recent exclusive report from the Associated Press (AP) highlighted the deficiencies with the California state law passed in 2006 that requires larger food retailers to recycle plastic bags. It's been clear to us that plastic bag recycling does not work and this is more proof. While the plastics industry and manufacturers often push for curbside recycling because of the convenience, the message to take certain items back does not work without a financial incentive.
Here's an except from the AP report the the Daily Journal:
Stores are required to submit annual reports detailing how many bags were bought by the store, how many were returned by consumers and which recyclers processed them, yet the state recycling department cannot say how many stores are complying. A review by the Associated Press found data has not been analyzed since 2009, two years after the law took effect. Then, three percent of California's plastic bags were being recycled, a one percentage point increase from the previous year.
While totals of bags purchased and recycled during the last three years were made available after an AP request, Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery spokesman Mark Oldfield said those numbers have not been verified so the official recycling rate can be updated. He said the program lacks resources to analyze recent reports. No fees are charged to bag manufacturers, recyclers or retailers to help pay for staff. While the law allows for fines if stores do not comply, no violations have been issued.
The AP report focuses on AB 2449 which was passed by California legislators in 2006, then the plastic bag recycling portion was extended until 2020 by legislators in 2012 through SB 1219. AB 2449 was a bit controversial at the time because many environmental groups were pushing for a stronger bill to address plastic bag litter and associated impacts. AB 2449 included a provision that prevented local communities from putting a fee on plastic checkout bags so the local response has been 65 plastic bag ban ordinances and counting.
Most recyclers don't want to deal with plastic bags and film because they can 'gum up' the machinery that processes more profitable items such as plastic bottles and aluminum cans. In Washington, Thurston County recycling provider Lemay, Inc. stopped collecting plastic bags and film in October because of a lack of market for the material. Delaware recently changed their policy and is directing residents not to put plastic bags in their curbside or other single-stream recycling bins.
In theory, it's a good idea to segregate plastic bags so they can be recycled separately but in reality that does not work if plastic bag recycle rates continue to hover in the single digits. Surfrider will continue to advocate plastic source reductions such as plastic bag bans and fee-based policies to help reduce plastic litter affecting the marine environment.
Visit EcoWatch’s WATER page for more related news on this topic.
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Company Safety Data Sheets on New Chemicals Frequently Lack the Worker Protections EPA Claims They Include
By Richard Denison
Readers of this blog know how concerned EDF is over the Trump EPA's approval of many dozens of new chemicals based on its mere "expectation" that workers across supply chains will always employ personal protective equipment (PPE) just because it is recommended in the manufacturer's non-binding safety data sheet (SDS).
By Grant Smith
From 2009 to 2012, Gregory Jaczko was chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which approves nuclear power plant designs and sets safety standards for plants. But he now says that nuclear power is too dangerous and expensive — and not part of the answer to the climate crisis.
By Brett Walton
When Greg Wetherbee sat in front of the microscope recently, he was looking for fragments of metals or coal, particles that might indicate the source of airborne nitrogen pollution in Rocky Mountain National Park. What caught his eye, though, were the plastics.
In a big victory for animals, Prada has announced that it's ending its use of fur! It joins Coach, Jean Paul Gaultier, Giorgio Armani, Versace, Ralph Lauren, Vivienne Westwood, Michael Kors, Donna Karan and many others PETA has pushed toward a ban.
This is a victory more than a decade in the making. PETA and our international affiliates have crashed Prada's catwalks with anti-fur signs, held eye-catching demonstrations all around the world, and sent the company loads of information about the fur industry. In 2018, actor and animal rights advocate Pamela Anderson sent a letter on PETA's behalf urging Miuccia Prada to commit to leaving fur out of all future collections, and the iconic designer has finally listened.
If people in three European countries want to fight the climate crisis, they need to chill out more.
"The rapid pace of labour-saving technology brings into focus the possibility of a shorter working week for all, if deployed properly," Autonomy Director Will Stronge said, The Guardian reported. "However, while automation shows that less work is technically possible, the urgent pressures on the environment and on our available carbon budget show that reducing the working week is in fact necessary."
The report found that if the economies of Germany, Sweden and the UK maintain their current levels of carbon intensity and productivity, they would need to switch to a six, 12 and nine hour work week respectively if they wanted keep the rise in global temperatures to the below two degrees Celsius promised by the Paris agreement, The Independent reported.
The study based its conclusions on data from the UN and the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) on greenhouse gas emissions per industry in all three countries.
The report comes as the group Momentum called on the UK's Labour Party to endorse a four-day work week.
"We welcome this attempt by Autonomy to grapple with the very real changes society will need to make in order to live within the limits of the planet," Emma Williams of the Four Day Week campaign said in a statement reported by The Independent. "In addition to improved well-being, enhanced gender equality and increased productivity, addressing climate change is another compelling reason we should all be working less."
Supporters of the idea linked it to calls in the U.S. and Europe for a Green New Deal that would decarbonize the economy while promoting equality and well-being.
"This new paper from Autonomy is a thought experiment that should give policymakers, activists and campaigners more ballast to make the case that a Green New Deal is absolutely necessary," Common Wealth think tank Director Mat Lawrence told The Independent. "The link between working time and GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions has been proved by a number of studies. Using OECD data and relating it to our carbon budget, Autonomy have taken the step to show what that link means in terms of our working weeks."
Stronge also linked his report to calls for a Green New Deal.
"Becoming a green, sustainable society will require a number of strategies – a shorter working week being just one of them," he said, according to The Guardian. "This paper and the other nascent research in the field should give us plenty of food for thought when we consider how urgent a Green New Deal is and what it should look like."
- Reduced Work Hours as a Means of Slowing Climate Change ›
- How working less could solve all our problems. Really. | ›
- Needed: A shorter work week – People's World ›