the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Ridgewood NJ, at last nights Village Council Meeting the Ridgewood Environmental Advisory Committee or REAC, for short proposed a Village wise ban on plastic bags . A seemingly noble cause if their ever was one .
According to Wire magazine , “The adverse impacts of plastic bags are undeniable: When they’re not piling up in landfills, they’re blocking storm drains, littering streets, getting stuck in trees, and contaminating oceans, where fish, seabirds, and other marine animals eat them or get tangled up in them. As longtime plastic bag adversary Ian Frazier recently reported in The New Yorker, “In 2014, plastic grocery bags were the seventh most common item collected during the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup, behind smaller debris such as cigarette butts, plastic straws, and bottle caps.” The New York City Sanitation Department collects more than 1,700 tons of single-use carry-out bags every week, and has to spend $12.5 million a year to dispose of them.”https://www.wired.com/2016/06/banning-plastic-bags-great-world-right-not-fast/
But here is the rub, according again to Wire ,”advocates of these laws and journalists who cover the issue often neglect to ask what will replace plastic bags and what the environmental impact of that replacement will be. People still need bags to bring home their groceries. And the most common substitute, paper bags, may be just as bad or worse, depending on the environmental problem you’re most concerned about.”
So we are going to replace plastic bags with reusable bags , made from plastic ? Not really sure that is a good long term trade off ? And what about recycled plastic ,does it work?
Brandon Kuczenski lays out the obvious case : “It depends on what you mean by helping. And what you mean by recycling. In some cases there is a clear benefit. With metals, it almost always makes sense to recycle because mining and benefication of primary metals is energy intensive. For instance, making primary aluminum from bauxite requires tremendous electricity consumption.. the energy savings from using recycled aluminum is a factor of 10-15. slam dunk. Steel is very easy to recycle and is very commonly recycled throughout the world. Copper is in increasingly high demand for recycling because worldwide copper mining yields are bottoming out and as a result, copper mining is very expensive.
Plastics are a bit more uncertain, but that is largely because of the sloppy way Americans handle their plastics than any technical limitations. Recycling HDPE (milk gallons) or PET (soda / water bottles) is well-established and mature, and there are modest energy savings to using recycled over primary materials in both cases (yes, even when including the impacts from “driving all those trucks around”). However, other plastics- even HDPE and PET from non-bottle product systems- are not presently recycled in a meaningful sense. They may be made into park benches or doorstops or things of that nature, but it is much harder to argue convincingly that they provide benefits. The reason for this is that different plastics have different chemical compositions, so plastics recycling requires a pure material stream. People who might otherwise make money from recycling plastic have decided that the waste stream generated by American consumers is too contaminated to be of value. In places where recyclables are handled more carefully, sorted by the consumer and cleaned of other materials, this may not be the case.” https://www.quora.com/Does-recycling-really-help-the-environment.
The REAC looking to conduct a study as to the impact to the Village . The Political Correct environment allows little or no dissent or questioning the status quo wisdom. But will it really impact the environment in the Village?
Councilmen Jeff Voigt was on board no questions asked. Councilmen Hach was a big concerned on the impact on merchants. The Mayor was concerned , and the REAC ladies continued to voice support for a ban .
A lot of unanswered question and a lot of unintended consequences seem just over the horizon with a bag ban . The blog would prefer the ladies at the REAC stick to more pressing local issues , like the ecological disaster a turf field presents especially when its placed in a flood zone . While obviously we need to balance recreational time and logistics perhaps more thoughtful long term solutions can be found minimizing the down side .