Plastic vs. paper, reusable
by Chris Woodward
July 30, 2012
A proposed ban of plastic shopping bags has become a new source of controversy, as one expert claims plastic is better for the environment -- and for the U.S. economy.
Sterling Burnett of the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) says recycling plastic bags requires less energy than paper bags and reusable bags -- not to mention the fact that it is cheaper. He further points out that paper bags do not decompose any better in landfills than plastic bags.
"Paper needs air to decompose," Burnett notes. "And paper in landfills -- it's an anaerobic environment. They don't decompose."
As for reusable bags, he explains that those aid in the spreading of salmonella and other diseases, as bacteria can spread from the bags onto checkout counters, conveyor belts and/or shopping carts.
"There's also a real problem with theft with these reusable bags," the spokesman adds. "Many of the reusable bags contain aluminum liners -- that was the response of [bag] manufacturers to try and decrease the public health problems. Unfortunately, gangs have found that you can fill these bags up and go right through the anti-theft devices, and it turns out it doesn't penetrate reusable bags with aluminum."
That, according to Burnett, hurts retailers and consumers by way of quantity and value.
There is also the fact that the plastic bag industry is wholly domestic, employing more than 10,000 people in the United States. The vast majority of reusable bags, however, are made in China. Burnett warns that by banning plastic bags, the U.S. would be shipping one more industry across the Pacific.