Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Recycle—don’t ban—plastic bags

At a time in American history when many hard-working men and woman in our nation are being negatively impacted by a lack of manufacturing jobs, I take great pride in going to work every day in Jerome for Hilex Poly, an American company that produces a 100 percent recyclable product.

I know my 125 co-workers feel the same way as I do, which is why we're so concerned that voters in the city of Hailey will decide on Nov. 8 whether the product we make, recyclable plastic bags, will be banned from grocery stores and other retail establishments.

I'm confident the students in Hailey who worked to put the proposed ban on the ballot did so because they think it's the right thing to do. I applaud their getting involved in the political process. As with most public policy issues, there are important facts that voters need to know before they cast their ballots. In addition to potentially costing Idaho jobs, bans like the one Hailey is considering have unintended negative environmental consequences.

If plastic bags are banned, retailers in Hailey would almost assuredly switch to exclusively providing paper bags for customers who don't bring their own bag. This is important because, according to ABC News, plastic bags generate 80 percent less waste than paper bags. Moreover, a standard paper bag must be reused three times to ensure it has a lower global warming potential than one use of a plastic bag, according to the U.K. Environmental Agency. Finally, according to the Retail Association of Nevada, for every seven trucks needed to deliver paper bags, only one truck is needed to deliver the same number of plastic bags.

I'd like to believe that with a closer examination of the facts, voters in Hailey will decide they do not want to inadvertently eliminate Idaho jobs, negatively impact global warming and put more trucks on the roads—all without decreasing litter.

There is a better way: recycling.

The Hilex Poly plant in Jerome produces 100 percent recyclable bags that are used in the Hailey area. More importantly, we have a recycling partnership with Atkinsons' Market in Hailey whereby a Hilex Poly employee, Jeanette Medlin, regularly drives to Hailey and picks up plastic bags that she then brings back to Jerome to be completely recycled onsite.

The bottom line is that when it comes to banning plastic bags, recycling is a better solution for Idaho's economy and the environment.

Mike Schutz

Hilex Poly plant manager

Jerome, Idaho

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