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Environment: Plastics industry fights bag and bottle bans

Environmental hazard, health benefit … depends who’s talking.

Economic and health arguments used to try and stem growing community efforts to reduce plastic pollution

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — With growing awareness that plastic trash is having serious impacts on aquatic environments, especially in the oceans, communities around the world are moving to reduce the reliance on single-use plastic bags and other sources of plastic.

At the same time, the industry is pushing back, setting up a classic environmental battle. Instead of figuring out a way to be part of the solution instead of the problem, plastic bag manufacturers are making an economic argument, trying to show with questionable studies that plastic bag bans impact sales and employment.

It’s a pretty typical tactic, commonly used by the energy industry, but it has the potential to be effective. In one recent example, a conservative think tank, the National Center for Policy Analysis, issued a press release purporting to show that employment at stores affected by a bag ban fell by 10 percent in the past year, and that sales dropped by 6 percent compared to nearby areas without a ban, where sales supposedly grew by 9 percent during the same time. Here’s a link to the study. Continue reading

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Breckenridge: No plastic bag ban in this ‘green’ town

Town Council debates ways to reduce plastic bag usage

Plastic bags: a bit of arboreal flotsam stuck in trees. PHOTO BY JENNEY COBERLY.

By Jenney Coberly

BRECKENRIDGE — Think globally, act locally is a well-worn environmental mantra, and this week, Breckenridge Town Council members considered how their town might be able to address its part in the worldwide scourge of plastic shopping bags.

Some 500 billion are produced annually and many of them end up drifting around in lakes and rivers, getting stuck in trees and being eaten by animals.  The ones that do make it to the landfill break down into tiny toxic particles that linger in the environment for many years.

Some environmental groups estimate that the bags, and other plastic garbage, may kill up to 1 million sea creatures each year, and in some areas of the ocean, degraded plastic outweighs biomass by six to one, according to a report from the Algalita Marine Research Foundation.

Some council members were determined to tackle the issue head-on during the recent retreat.

“I believe that we need to take strong action on this, that we should be on the leading edge,” said council member Jennifer McAtamney. “If we do it over time, we have an opportunity to educate the people in our community and get them on board, and see why this is such a big deal,” she added.

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