To the Editor:
In the wake of a scientific report last week by the World Economic Forum that projects that plastic garbage will outnumber fish in our oceans by 2050, the letter from the CEO of a South Carolina plastic bag company (Letters to the Editor, Feb. 26) protesting the Vineyard Conservation Society’s proposal to eliminate single-use plastic bags is truly astounding.
Nearly 9 million tons of plastics enter our oceans each year, where the pieces can survive for hundreds of years. That’s the equivalent of one garbage truck dumping its contents into the sea every minute, around the clock.
Plastic bag companies say that these bags are just a small part of the plastics on a percentage basis. But what they don’t tell you is that the actual number — trillions of bags every year — end up killing millions of sea turtles, birds, seals, and other marine wildlife. On the shore, they jam recycling machines, litter our beaches and landscapes, and clog stormwater drains.
While I appreciate that the plastics industry sets up spots to recycle bags, the fact is that less than 1 percent of the bags actually make it there. The rest end up in our oceans, rivers, and landfills, where they last virtually forever.
Contrary to the plastic company propaganda, bans on these bags are proliferating across the United States and the world. California has passed a statewide ban, and Hawaii has essentially done the same. Communities across New England have adopted bans; major cities like Chicago and Los Angeles have bans, as do have nations as diverse as Rwanda and Morocco.
Plastic companies are so fearful of grassroots efforts to ban these bags that they have spent millions of dollars in lobbying to get states to usurp local control and prevent local ordinances. The so-called American Progressive Bag Alliance, the industry’s trade group, is funded in part by companies from China and overseas.
Forty years ago, there were no plastic bags on the Vineyard or in the world. Hopefully, 40 years from now, there will not be any either. It’s time our community joins thousands of others around the world in reducing plastic pollution, and bans single-use plastic bags.