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The Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) is the Grand Traverse region's oldest grassroots environmental advocacy organization.

Plastic is Passé

When the Mermaids Cry: The great plastic tide
"The world population is living, working, vacationing, increasingly conglomerating along the coasts, and standing on the front row of the greatest, most unprecedented, plastic waste tide ever faced. Washed out on our coasts in obvious and clearly visible form, the plastic pollution spectacle blatantly unveiling on our beaches is only the prelude of the greater story that unfolded further away in the the world’s oceans, yet mostly originating from where we stand: the land. In 2008, our global plastic consumption worldwide has been estimated at 260 million tons. Plastic is versatile, lightweight, flexible, moisture resistant, strong, and relatively inexpensive. Those are the attractive qualities that lead us, around the world, to such a voracious appetite and over-consumption of plastic goods. However, durable and very slow to degrade, plastic materials that are used in the production of so many products all, ultimately, become waste with staying power. Our tremendous attraction to plastic, coupled with an undeniable behavioral propensity of increasingly over-consuming, discarding, littering and thus polluting, has become a combination of lethal nature."

Prepare for a low plastic future
More and more studies are implicating plastics in health problems ranging from reproductive disruption to obesity to ADHD to cancer. The FDA has vowed to be more responsive to health concerns about plastic. And consumers have shown that they will respond quickly and dramatically to perceived health threats from products, especially when risks are higher for children, as they seem to be with plastic.It seems clear that the more we learn about how plastics affect human health, the more urgently we may try to usher in a "low-plastic" future. Businesses that see this future coming can minimize their risk and even gain a competitive advantage by acting now.

Beautiful BagTax
Washington D.C. instituted a 5-cent tax on disposable bags—both paper and plastic—on New Year's Day. Now, when you go to the grocery store in the District, you pay a little extra if you get a new tree- or oil-based bag rather than bring your own. It's been wildly successful as a waste-cutting measure. Store managers are reporting that the number of bags they buy and use has dropped by around 50 percent. They should be happy about that because it cuts their costs. The tax will also generate an estimated $3.6 million in revenue for the District.

Plastic: Degrading Poisons into Ocean Water
Mounting evidence shows there is no time to wait for people to decide to catch on in their own time. No better example of this exists than the plastic plague. Until we stop participating in trashing the planet and ourselves we are slashing away at our planetary wrists in ecocide.

Record Eagle Editorial: Downtown should widen shopping tote program
Downtown should widen shopping tote program At the urging of the Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council, the Traverse City commission last month passed a resolution encouraging retailers to eliminate the use of plastic bags, the flimsy white numbers that are in every way, a pain. While inexpensive and practical, the bags are a pox. They're made with petroleum products, driving up the demand for oil. They're difficult to recycle, one thing Grand Traverse county -- with the highest landfill rates in the state and a faltering recycling program -- doesn't need. They can tangle birds and other critters and they're so light they can end up anywhere the wind blows -- on the beach, in the water or in the woods. And they take forever to decompose. Thankfully, a possible answer is already here. This summer, the Downtown Traverse City Association began offering merchants reusable totes, [as have many local and big box stores in the area]. The totes, which cost $1 each, are flying off the shelves. An initial order of 2,000 bags was followed by an order for another 4,000, Downtown Development Authority marketing director Colleen Paveglio said. One store has already gone through four 100-bag boxes.

Plastic: Degrading Poisons into Ocean Water
Until we stop participating in trashing the planet and ourselves we are slashing away at our planetary wrists in ecocide. Charles Moore, the sailor who discovered the Northern Pacific Garbage Patch and who has dedicated his life's work to fighting the plastic plague, warns that unless consumers cut back on their use of disposable plastics, the plastic stew would double in size over the next decade. (Feb. 4, 2008, The Independent - UK)

Agroplastics or Bioplastics: Coming On
23 March 2009—Petroleum-based plastics have only in the last several years been discovered to be an unmitigated disaster. Oceans are being filled with this mess of nonbiodegradable poison that cannot be cleaned up. Plastics, their additives and toxins attached to them in the oceans enter our bodies and damage our hormones and genes.

China Reports 66 Percent Drop in Plastic Bag Use
A strict Chinese limit on ultra-thin plastic bags significantly reduced bag-related pollution nationwide during the past year. The country avoided the use of 40 billion bags, according to government estimates. Despite backlash from the plastics industry, numerous countries and cities worldwide have adopted bag limits in recent years. Mumbai, India, banned thin plastic bags in 2000 to prevent garbage from clogging storm drains during monsoon season. Bans or taxes have since been adopted in localities including Australia, Ireland, Italy, South Africa, and various U.S. cities. In Tanzania, selling a thin plastic bag risks the maximum penalty of six months in jail and a 1.5 million shilling (US$1,170) fine.

The Great Plastic Bag Plague
They're ubiquitous. They accompany us home each time we shop. They swirl about our oceans, they cling to our trees, they drift down our city sidewalks, they adorn metal fences, they're consumed by animals. They are an urban tumbleweed, a flag of the consumer era. For every bag, there's a cost. Plastic bags, and other plastic refuse that end up in the ocean, kill up to one million sea creatures every year, such as birds, whales, seals, sea turtles, and others. And the number of marine mammals that die each year because of eating or being entanglement in plastic is estimated at 100,000 in the North Pacific Ocean alone. Although bags are given out free these days, they are not without their costs. Retailers in the United States spend $4 billion a year on plastic bags, which gets passed on to customers as higher prices.

Plastic bags and oil consumption
Plastic bags are made from oil: it takes about 430,000 gallons of oil to produce 100 million plastic bags, and the U.S. goes through 380 billion of them a year.The more we use plastic bags, the more we waste oil. Compounding the problem is the fact that, not only do we make tons of plastic bags (and use lots of oil in the process) we only recycle 1 percent. One lousy percent. It’s pitiful. But the plastic problem gets worse. Under perfect conditions a bag takes a thousand years to biodegrade, and in a landfill, plastic bags decompose even slower. If buried, they block the natural flow of oxygen and water through the soil. If burned, they release dangerous toxins and carcinogens into the air. The damage is even more severe when the bags end up in the ocean, where thousands of sea turtles and other marine life die each year after mistaking plastic bags for food.

Carrying your own reusable water bottle: still plastic
There are two healthy trends going together: rejecting plastic water bottles, and appreciating good ol' tap water. Reasons include the need to cut waste: at best, 17% of plastic water bottles are recycled. Only about one percent of plastic bags are recycled. Of these and other plastics, over 99.9% of it is petroleum. Landfills and incinerators handle the great bulk of this non-biodegradable toxic trash, and a huge amount resides in the oceans. Regarding the major issue of appreciating water as a right or public utility, paying for water to enrich corporations is anathema to more and more of us.

Plastic Bags: Switching to Reusable Cloth Bags
Plastic bags begin as crude oil, natural gas, or petrochemical derivatives that are transformed into resins. The resin is heated and extruded, flattened, sealed, punched, and printed on. The environmental cost of plastic bags is huge. The plastic bags that have inundated our planet are derived from a non-renewable resource; they never break down completely; they strangle wildlife; and they clog single stream recycling machinery.

Wal-Mart turns up heat in war on plastic bags
The battle between the world's leading retailers to deliver the deepest cuts in plastic bag use intensified yesterday when supermarket giant Wal-Mart announced it is to cut plastic shopping bag waste from its stores globally by a third. The company said that the move would eliminate more than 135 million lbs of plastic waste a year, cut CO2 emissions by 290,000 tonnes and slash energy consumption to the equivalent of 678,000 barrels of oil.

Retailers call for boost in bioplastic recycling capacity
Report claims "sustainable" bioplastics could lead to increased methane emissions if not recycled correctly. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has today called for a significant increase in the number of recycling facilities capable of handling so-called bioplastics after reports emerged claiming that the eco-friendly packaging may do considerably more harm to the environment than first thought. According to an investigation by The Guardian newspaper, bioplastics made from corn, maize, sugar cane and other plant materials are exacerbating recent global food shortages by eating into land previously used for food production and contributing to global warming by releasing methane as they break down. Concern centres on corn-based packaging made with polylactic acid (Pla), which experts claim can only be composted in special anaerobic digesters and may contaminate the waste stream if its is recycled alongside conventional plastics.

M & S to Charge for Plastic Bags
Move cranks up pressure on rival supermarkets to follow suit BusinessGreen Staff, BusinessGreen, 28 Feb 2008 plastic bag The retail industry's attempts to curb the use of disposable plastic carrier bags took perhaps its most significant step forward yesterday, after Marks & Spencer became the first major retailer to announce it is to charge for plastic bags. Under the plans, which will be introduced in all M&S stores from the beginning of May, customers will be charged five pence for each food carrier bag they use. The move follows the trialling of the scheme at stores in Northern Ireland and the South West of England, which saw use of food carrier bags drop by 70 per cent.

Ban on plastic bags passes County Council first reading
The Maui County Council took its first formal step on Friday to pass a bill to bar retail businesses from giving out plastic bags at the point of sale.

China's Plastic Bag Ban Will Save 37 Million Barrels of Oil
China has never been considered an environmental role model. Given a population of 1.3 billion, unprecedented carbon emissions and a slew of recent lead-toy scandals, many would say the country stands as a — if not the — prime example of environmental failure.

Plastic bag ban signed into law
Mayor Gavin Newsom signed the groundbreaking Plastic Bag Reduction Ordinance approved by the Board of Supervisors in a 10-1 vote last month into law at 1:30 p.m. today. The ordinance, drafted by Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, makes San Francisco the first city in the nation to outlaw the use of plastic checkout bags. The ordinance requires large supermarkets to discontinue use of the plastic bags within six months and large chain pharmacies within the next year.

Ban on polybags in Darjeeling
DARJEELING - The Board of municipal councillors of Darjeeling have passed a resolution to ban the use of polythene packets and polybags within the municipal area and has decided to seize such bags if found illegally stored or used. The action to ban polybags would be taken from June 1. Offenders would be fined to the tune of Rs 500, under legal provisions. The drive to ban polythene and polybags was started by the public health department in 1998, but could not be made effective because it was not approved by the board of municipal councillors, according to a civic official.

Austin Joins the Plastic Bag Ban
Jumping on the “ban the plastic bags” bandwagon with San Francisco and Los Angeles, the Austin City Council will consider a resolution this week that could lead to new strategies for reducing waste from non-biodegradable, petroleum-based plastic bags by stores located in the city. “In Austin, we care about protecting our environment, both locally and globally,” said Council Member Leffingwell, who authored the resolution. “If we can find ways to significantly reduce the use of non-biodegradable, petroleum-based plastic bags in Austin stores, we’ll not only be doing our own community a big favor, but we’ll also be setting an example that could make a meaningful difference for the future of our global environment if it were followed by other cities and states around the country.”

Alaskan villages ban plastic bags
"It's working out good here," said Peter Captain Sr., chief of the tribal council in Galena, where the city banned stores from using plastic bags in 1998. "You used to find plastic bags all over the place, up in the trees. ... But you don't see that now." At least 30 communities statewide have banned plastic bags. They have joined a growing list of places around the world that decided the bags' nuisance outweighs their convenience. Ireland and Taiwan started taxing bags to curtail their use. South Africa banned them completely, as did Bangladesh after devastating floods were attributed to stray plastic bags blocking drains.

Plastic Left Holding the Bag as Environmental Plague
There is a growing international movement to ban or discourage the use of plastic bags because of their environmental effects. Countries from Ireland to Australia are cracking down on the bags and action is beginning to stir in the United States. The ubiquitous plastic shopping bag, so handy for everything from toting groceries to disposing of doggie doo, may be a victim of its own success. Environmental groups estimate that 500 billion to 1 trillion of the bags are now used worldwide every year. Critics of the bags say they use up natural resources, consume energy to manufacture, create litter, choke marine life and add to landfill waste. One of the most dramatic impacts is on marine life. About 100,000 whales, seals, turtles and other marine animals are killed by plastic bags each year worldwide, according to Planet Ark, an international environmental group. Last September, more than 354,000 bags -- most of them plastic -- were collected during an international cleanup of costal areas in the United States and 100 other countries, according to the Ocean Conservancy. Consumers seem agreeable to giving up the bags, said Claire Wilton, senior waste campaigner at Greenpeace-UK.

No plastic bags in LA stores
Plastic can take a thousand years to disintegrate ... If the American Revolutionary Minutemen had used plastic bags to carry around their musket balls, sandwiches, beef jerky, and candles; we'd still see their bags blowing across our fields, in our lakes, stuck in rural fences, hanging from tree branches, and clogging urban drains.

For Seattle Shoppers, Paper or Plastic Could Come with a ‘Green Fee
New York Times - USA  —  April 5, 2008
Last year, San Francisco banned plastic grocery bags outright, but paper bags can still be used, and without a fee. Seattle, often just as liberal but less...

Plastic-Bag Bans Gaining Momentum Around the World
National Geographic News  —  April 4, 2008
From Australia to the U.K., and all across the U.S., politicians and corporations are pondering banning or taxing plastic bags . . .

PAPER or PLASTIC? Is there a correct answer?
MSNBC  —  March 14, 2008
Banning plastic bags statewide will encourage shoppers to bring their own reusable bags to the grocery store, said the sponsor of a . . .

Lawmakers consider ban on plastic bags
Examiner.com - CA, USA  —  March 7, 2008
Banning plastic bags statewide will encourage shoppers to bring their own reusable bags to the grocery store, said the sponsor of a . . .

Boulder's Whole Foods leads charge to ditch bags
Daily Camera - CO, USA  —  Feb 23, 2008
The natural food store has made strides in reducing the use of plastic grocery bags and is making plans to target the produce bags as well . . .

The Tote Bag's Coming. Are You Ready For It?
TheNewsTribune.com, WA  —  Feb 16, 2008
This is not our first stab at reusable bags. We tried to like the cloth sacks grocery stores marketed a few years back. But they were surly little items . . .

Envirochic, I'd like you to meet groceries
Valley Star, CA  —  Feb 14, 2008
Reusable grocery bags rocketed into the spotlight recently thanks to San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi's anti-plastic grocery bag legislation . . .

Paper, plastic are passe as grocers stock reusable bags
DesMoinesRegister.com, IA  —  Feb 13, 2008
Last year, the 500 bags were gone by August. Rachel Glaza, 28, of Des Moines has been bringing reusable bags to the grocery store since she bought two cloth . . .

Whole Foods to Bag Plastic: Whaddya Think?
Washington Post, United States  —  Feb 5, 2008
Polypro is also more easily recycled than regular grocery bag plastic. I started using reusable bags after I heard about the area in the Pacific Ocean about...


Bag 'em up: Plastic sacks losing appeal
Minneapolis Star Tribune, MN  —  Jan 22, 2008
Prompted by environmental and consumer concerns, some grocery stores are banning thin plastic bags this spring. . . .

2004 Senate Bill 1308 (Impose plastic shopping bag tax )
Introduced by Sen. Ron Jelinek on June 17, 2004, to impose a tax of two-cents per bag on nonbiodegradable plastic shopping bags. The tax revenue could only be used for public school operating purposes and regional recycling operations.

 
 
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