Industry Propaganda

Jun 12, 2019

Ship Bottom — To the Editor:

A while ago I wrote to challenge a reader’s citation of a definitive survey that ranked our congressmen based on their loyalty to the Constitution. Turns out, the survey the letter writer cited was authored by the John Birch Society.

Here we go again, more questionable facts. I’m referring to the letter “Dictatorial Rulings” (6/5) by Joseph Orrico. In essence, I believe Mr. Orrico’s message is that bans on single-use plastic bags are un-American. He references a Wall Street Journal commentary to add weight to his position, which cites a study concluding that plastic bags “are immediately better for the environment than paper or cotton.”

Well, folks, that was such a mind-bending statement, I had to read the article for myself. It is “In Plastic-Bag Wars, the Industry Fights Back,” by Saabira Chaudhuri, WSJ, May 20, 2019. Simply put, the studies are done by the plastics industry for their lobbyists working in Washington, D.C. and state capitals.

If you were to actually read the article, the studies say plastic bags and foam containers are less harmful to the planet than cotton or paper because of the higher “carbon footprint” associated with the farming and milling industries and product production. A paper bag would have to be used three times to be as beneficial as plastic. So products made from nature – crops and timber – are inherently worse for the planet than an equivalent product made from oil and refined into foam or plastic. Huh?

And if you see the nuance, the word “immediately” is key – the studies do not take into account the fact that once a plastic bag or Styrofoam container is made and thrown away, it never leaves the environment. Nor do the studies factor in the resultant environmental costs to the planet of our waterways and oceans being choked with plastic waste.

People are free to think the plastic bans are un-American, but I wouldn’t rely on industry propaganda and fuzzy science to back it.

Tom McArdle

Ship Bottom


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