I was puzzled to see “Bag ban won’t reduce litter” (Oct. 12), an op-ed from something calling itself “Environmental Resources Planning” (ERP), based in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Why would an out-of-state group concerned with the environment be trashing Waterville’s proposed ban on plastic shopping bags from big stores?

So I did a little research online and found one of ERP’s sponsors to be the American Chemical Council, which represents plastics manufacturers — which make plastic shopping bags.

One of the studies they cite, by APCO Insight, claims to have found that “92% of plastic shopping bags are reused.” But most of these bags (65 percent, according to APCO) are re-used as trash bags, which end up as landfill anyway. And by the way, APCO Insight is a company whose experts help their corporate clients “mitigate reputational risks” — perhaps including the bad reputation of plastic bags?

I don’t know the sources of the rest of the studies cited in the article, but I notice it doesn’t mention the fact that these bags can’t be recycled in your curbside collection, but have to go back to the stores that give them out. It also doesn’t mention that many plastic bags end up in the ocean and that marine animals mistake them for jellyfish and eat them — fatally.

If I had to guess, I’d say the Sustain Mid-Maine Coalition, being local and nonprofit, has better motives than these corporate apologists. And I’d vote yes on Waterville Question 1, the plastic bag ordinance.

Claire Prontnicki


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