by Pearl Hahn
The vote to ban plastic bags on Kauai has again been postponed. Lawmakers would be wise to use this extra time to seriously consider the ramifications of banning plastic bags.
Posed with the paper-or-plastic question, many instinctively pick paper, as it is biodegradable, recyclable, and made from a renewable resource. Yet, plastic continues to dominate in retail stores worldwide. One reason is primarily economic; a standard plastic grocery bag costs only a penny to produce while its paper counterpart costs four to five times that amount. As for its environmental impact, the Environmental Protection Agency reports that the production of paper bags generates more air and water pollution in addition to requiring more energy in manufacturing and recycling than plastic bags. In fact, plastic uses 40 percent less energy to produce while paper generates 70 percent more emissions and 50 times more water pollutants than plastic.
Paper also take up more space in landfills while plastic generates 80 percent less solid waste- a consideration not to be taken lightly as Honolulu begins shipping its trash to Washington state this week at a cost of $99.89 per ton.
In the sweeping “green” movement that has overtaken the nation, it is not a time to abandon facts and sound policy. From both an economic and environmental standpoint, a plastic bag ban makes zero sense.
Pearl can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org