Reusing plastic bags beats recycling

Reusing plastic bags beats recycling
August 31, 2012

Taylor Smith

Taylor Smith is a policy analyst for the Government Relations Department at The Heartland Institute... (read full bio)

In response to the Aug. 28 editorial, “Let’s not sack the recycling of plastic bags,” I thought Gov. Quinn made the right move vetoing the Plastic Bag and Film Recycling Act, requiring plastic bag manufacturers to set up recycling programs to increase the percentage of plastic bag and film being recycled. But I disagree with his motive.

The problem with the legislation was not that it doesn’t promote plastic bag recycling enough, but that it’s promoted at all. A recent study by the UK Environmental Agency found it’s actually better for the environment if plastic bags are reused or repurposed rather than recycled. A survey conducted by the American Chemistry Council found 92 percent of American consumers already reused their plastic bags.

Government has no reason to interfere with how free people and businesses use plastic bags, and legislation to promote plastic bag recycling will burden businesses and consumers and have little if any appreciable effect on the environment.

[First published in The Chicago Sun-Times.]

Taylor Smith

Taylor Smith is a policy analyst for the Government Relations Department at The Heartland Institute... (read full bio)