Plastic bag recycling has caught some attention in recent months as the ongoing discussion of plastic bag legislation has become a highly debated topic. To straighten out some myths regarding plastic bags and plastic bag recycling, I wanted to respond to Lisa Kaas Boyle's post here on Huffington Post Green to explain the real benefits of plastic bag recycling and what our company, Hilex Poly, is doing to make the process easier and more convenient for consumers across the country. After all, this is a topic that Hilex is incredibly familiar with as it is our job, and the job of more than 10,000 employees of the plastic bag manufacturing and recycling industry.
Plastic Industry Tactics: Aggression and Distraction
Some have called the plastic industry aggressive in its recent attempt to curb anti-plastic bag legislation. Our answer to this is, yes, we are aggressive. We believe in defending the consumer's right to choose how they want to carry their groceries -- be it plastic, paper, reusable or no bag at all -- as well as educating the public about proper handling and potential dangers of reusable bags if not properly stored and cleaned. At the crux of this plastic bag debate is the principle of consumer freedom and we are open and supportive of all bag choices as we defend the American right to choose.
Fact: Recycling Plastic Reduces the Use of Virgin Plastic
In her recent post, Boyle shared an excerpt from an article by Stiv Wilson, in which I was misquoted. The fact is, I told Mr. Wilson we have doubled the amount of recycled material to 30 percent in the past few years. And, every day we are working to bring down the percentage of virgin material used in our bags. The more people recycle, the more recycled materials we will have to reuse in our product.
Fact: Disposable Plastics are Sustainable Because they are Recycled
Plastic bag recycling is something that our company does every day, so we know the process inside and out. More than 800 million pounds of plastic bags and film are recycled every year and made into new products like backyard decking, playground equipment and new plastic bags. The easier plastic bag recycling is for consumers, the higher recycling rates will climb, which is exactly the reason why legislation that supports plastic recycling is vital.
Fact: Disposable Plastic is Sustainable because it can be made into Fill and Fluff and other Stuff
If you don't believe that consumers are constantly repurposing plastic bags, take a look at the facts. According to a market research study, about nine out of every ten consumers reuse these bags for everyday household purposes. With so many individuals reusing plastic bags, it is no wonder that a recent study, reported in the Scottish Parliament ERDC Committee -- Economic and Rural Development Committee, revealed that sales of other, heavier gauge plastic bags soared by 400 percent in Ireland after they implemented a ban on plastic bags.
Fact: Plastic Pollution Can Be Cleaned Out of the Environment
Keeping plastic in the recycling stream is our top priority. The easier it is for consumers to recycle plastic bags, the less likely it is for them to be disposed of improperly. Unfortunately, plastic does end up in the ocean; however it should be noted that plastic bags are not the leading cause of animal and marine death. In fact, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration stated that they are unable to find information supporting this claim. Debris, such as fishing lines, is most commonly at fault.
Time for Common Sense Legislation and Consumer Choice
This is a time for the country to keep plastic in the recycling stream and to preserve consumer freedom and American jobs. With the plastic bag recycling and manufacturing industry in the United States directly employing more than 10,000 employees -- and effecting thousands more as the industry branches out throughout the market -- recycling is a positive solution for the environment and a positive industry for this country, particular at a time when U.S. jobs are so vital to the economy.
Common sense legislation that supports recycling initiatives and maintains the best interest of the American consumer is what this country needs most. Recycling laws will educate individuals on the importance of the process and will teach them how to help the environment on a day-to-day basis.
If you would like to learn more about our local recycling stations and plastic bag legislation in your state, visit our interactive map available at BagtheBan.com.
Mark Daniels is Vice President Of Marketing And Environmental Affairs at Hilex Poly, a plastic bag manufacturing company.