Plastic bag use impractical, wasteful

August 14, 2013 

Thurston County consumers now have another reason to stop using single-use plastic bags: Beginning in October, Thurston County’s recycling provider LeMay Inc. will stop collecting them and plastic wrap material.

In the short-term, that’s bad news for the environment. LeMay collects about 15 tons of flimsy plastic bags and wrap every month in Thurston County. When the recycler stops collecting plastic, it will end up in the garbage, slowly breaking down into tiny bits that ultimately make their way into the human food chain.

The long-term solution is to reduce our dependency and use of plastic wrap and plastic bags, and that means eliminating the bulk of the problem: consumer usage.

LeMay’s announcement should provide added momentum and a new sense of urgency to Thurston County’s effort to implement a countywide ban.

It’s a worthy goal, because there is simply no good reason to continue using the plastic bags. They harm the environment and thwart recycling industry efforts, and we have a perfectly good alternative in reusable bags.

Terri Thomas, who is leading the county’s initiative, hopes to have ordinances in place by January 2014, followed by a six-month education period leading to implementation next July.

However, that means unless consumers stop using plastic bags voluntarily, more than 135 additional tons of bags will clog up the Thurston County landfill.

The worldwide market for recycling the plastic has disappeared and a ban is coming anyway. South Sound consumers might as well stop using single-use plastic bags right now. It’s a practice that no longer makes sense.

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