JANUARY 2009

Plymouth, Massachusetts rejects plastic bag ban; expands recycling

The town of Plymouth, Massachusetts rebuffed a bid to ban plastic bags and instead opted to expand recycling, following in the footsteps of neighboring New York and Rhode Island. Plymouth joins the rising trend of communities across the country, including Chicago, Tucson and New York City, that are taking advantage of a rapidly growing recycling infrastructure for plastic grocery bags, dry cleaning bags, bread bags - even the plastic bags used to deliver newspapers.

After local business owners cited the environmental advantages of plastic over paper bags and expressed commitment to increase recycling, the proposed ban was dropped. Town officials instead will educate citizens about reusing and recycling plastic bags, according to news reports.

Commenting on the outcome of the town’s debate, Plymouth’s director of health Susan Merrifield said she’s happy with the way everything turned out. “We, as a community, need to look at recycling,” she said. “This ended up being a success story.”

“Plastic is too valuable to waste, it should be recycled,” said Shari Jackson of the Progressive Bag Affiliates, part of the American Chemistry Council. “Today’s plastic bags can be tomorrow’s durable decking, fencing, railings, shopping carts or new bags, so please help keep these innovative products out of the trash.”

Although the recycling of plastic bags and wraps grew 24 percent in 2006, there are still opportunities to do even better. Jackson encourages shoppers to look for the recycling bin in front of grocery stores or near the checkout counters and bring back clean plastic grocery bags, retail bags, newspaper bags, dry cleaning bags, and wraps from bread, paper towels, bathroom paper, and such. To learn more about increasing plastic bag recycling, visit the website www.plasticbagrecycling.org.