Bags Corona

Plastic Bag Industry Exploits Corona Crisis in Stafford

The plastic bag industry continues to try to find ways to convince the public to use plastic bags instead of reusable fabric or paper bags.

It is sad to see them again put out false and misleading information and exploit the current health crisis with the COVID-19 pandemic.

They have falsely claimed that this virus would spread more easily on a reusable fabric bag than on a plastic bag by using incorrect, partial and misleading data.

This misleading data could help spread COVID-19.

According to the most recent independent scientific studies published by the New England Journal of Medicine and the National Institute of Health, the passing out of these plastic bags and reusing them is much more likely to spread the virus than using reusable fabric bags.

We are still learning about COVID-19, but coronaviruses can live for a few days on hard surfaces.

“They do less well on porous surfaces like cardboard or fabric, lasting only 24 hours,” according to numerous studies.

The New England Journal of Medicine examined how long the coronavirus lived in various contexts.

“On plastic and stainless steel, the virus was viable for up to three days,” one medical scientist said.

The coronavirus can stay suspended in air for up to three hours and land on any surface.

Once on the surface “it was detectable for up to 24 hours on porous materials compared to 72 hours on plastic.”

Falsely stating the increased possibility of spreading COVID-19 by using reusable fabric bags, and promoting the use of plastic bags are a dangerous misrepresentation to the public during a very critical time.

Anything exposed to viruses, molds, etc., can carry this virus.

However, the studies clearly show these viruses live three times longer on plastic than on fabric or paper.

Keeping your clothes, purses, gym bags, etc., clean is the best way to avoid spreading this virus.

Another false argument is the cost to the stores.

People bringing their own reusable bags and the stores no longer buying and supplying plastic bags should save stores money.

The plastic bag industry continues to publish false information and misleading data.

One study claims how many times you need to use a fabric bag to break even on the manufacturing costs of plastic bags vs. fabric bags.

A British study found you would have to use a fabric bag 131 times to offset the manufacturing cost of plastic vs. cotton. However, this study addressed only the manufacturing cost of each bag.

There are so many variables that are not mentioned in the study, such as the type of fabric, volume of the bags, how long you use the bags, etc.

The most common plastic bag used in checkout lines in grocery stores measures 11 by 11 by 4 inches, or 484 cubic inches.

The fabric bag I use is 16 by 17 by 8 inches, or 2,176 cubic inches, indicating my fabric bag can hold 4.5 times as many groceries.

My wife and I typically shop once a week and use two reusable fabric bags.

To carry that same amount of groceries we would need nine plastic bags.

We have been using the same fabric bags for over five years, and they show no sign of wear.

The bags are washable, and we ensure they are kept clean.

Another study done by the plastics industry discusses the manufacturing process of plastic (which is made from a nonrenewable resource, oil) vs. paper and fabric bags (made from renewable resources).

A proper study is a life cycle study – cradle to grave for each bag.

It should also be a cost to benefit analysis and capture impacts to our environment, oceans, woodlands, water supply, and cost to dispose of or recycle.

I think the public would be surprised at the true cost to taxpayers for using plastic bags.

Stafford Township spent three years reviewing studies, having public meetings, talking to store owners locally and at their national headquarters.

Every major group that studied the plastic bag issue from the U.N. to the European Union recommends banning these bags.

Numerous countries all over the world have banned these bags.

Other entire states and communities have banned these bags.

None of this was done without extensive research and a concern for our people, planet and future.

There is no such thing as a biodegradable plastic bag.

There is no effective recycling process in place. We still ship tons of our plastic bags overseas for disposal.

Ocean County does not recycle plastic bags.

These bags need to be removed from the recycling stream by hand, all at a significant cost to taxpayers.

The plastics industry falsely claims plastic bags take up less space in landfills than paper.

However, most paper is recycled and safely biodegradable.

Plastic breaks down into nana-plastics and micro-plastics, which contaminate our water and food chain.

They never disappear. Scientists have found many of these nana-plastics and micro-plastics to carry dangerous carcinogens that enter our food supply.

Our leaders at the municipal, county, state and national levels need to base their decisions on what is best for everyone, especially our children and grandchildren, who will be left with severe problems due to inaction and bad decisions that were not based on sound scientific or empirical data.

A statewide single-use plastic bag ban has passed in the New Jersey State Assembly and now needs to pass in the state Senate.

I hope our state senators have the courage to do the right thing.

John R. Spodofora is a former mayor of Stafford Township.

Under his administration, the township instituted a single-use plastic bag ban, which has since been lifted during the coronavirus pandemic.


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Plastic Bag Industry Exploits COVID-19 Crisis in Stafford

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