The time is right to ban single-use plastic bags
It is that time of year again. When plastic bags bloom. You see them everywhere – flagging in trees, nesting in bushes, floating in waterways, buried in melting snowbanks and drifting along roadways. Discarded plastic bags are unsightly, harmful to wildlife and expensive to get rid of.
According to the New York State plastic bag task force report, Americans consume 100 billion single-use plastic bags each year. Used for an average of 12 minutes, a plastic bag takes decades to decompose depending on where it ends up. And the pile of plastic bag waste is growing.
It is a myth that plastic bags are free.
American businesses spend up to $4 billion each year purchasing plastic bags, and that cost is passed on to consumers.
Film plastic jams recycling equipment. The cost for cleaning and repairing machinery from entangled plastic bags is passed on to consumer-taxpayers.
The overwhelming majority of plastic bags are not recycled. In fact, more plastic bags end up as pollution than are recycled. This litter contaminates waterways, injures wildlife and disfigures neighborhoods. The cost of cleanup is passed on to local communities.
When you add it up – the cost of single-use plastic bags is too high.
If New York State is not going to act, it will be up to local communities and Erie County to take action, because the cost of doing nothing about plastic bag waste is high and keeps growing. It is time to ban the use of single-use plastic bags.
Ann S. Bergantz
Chairman, Erie County Environmental