Wednesday, May 11, 2011

From the Comments and My Mail on Reuseable Bags

Councilmember Nancy Floreen (D-At Large) kindly commented in response to my post about her handing out reuseable bags during her last campaign though she now opposes the bag tax. Nancy probably has commented more on MPW than any other elected official, so I thought I'd do her the courtesy of reprinting (recyclying?) it here:

Since this issue came up I am indeed embarrassed about the reuseable bags I gave out. Turns out the liners have a lot of lead in them, the bags themselves are largely made out of petroleum products, not recycleable themselves, and need to be washed. I thought AL Carr had a good idea when he started handing these things out,but based on what I now know, I am not so sure. the reason there is really not that much backlash about this tax is because it is not enough to actually change behavior. As Roger says, it's a "nudge." But Montgomery County people are already great recylcers, they don't need nudges. This is just another tax.
For the other side, see Keith Berner, who points out that bag use is down dramatically in DC and far fewer bags have been found in local waterways.

I also received mail from a Claudia Holwill (posted below), a spokeswoman for Hilex Poly--a manufacturer of plastic bags--containing a link to a video with helpful tips for reuseable bag newbies or people who are just bag curious. Among the useful nuggets of information from the "practice safe sacks" (aw shucks) video are:
  • Wrap meat, fish in separate plastic bags. Thanks Hilex Poly! I didn't know that--I've just been tossing in the salmon and the steaks in together unwrapped--the way those awful supermarket folks always give them to me--together. Probably a good tip even if you use plastic bags.
  • Don't place reuseable bags on rotating children's playground equipment. Seriously, watch the video.
Hilex Poly repeats Nancy's warnings about lead and bacteria. Hilex Poly also offers helpfully that plastic bags are a great alternative if you can't wash your bags after each use and want to avoid the mass death that has plagued jurisdictions that have adopted the bag tax:

Here is the full letter from Claudia Holwill:
Hi David,

Allow me to introduce myself; My name is Claudia Holwill and I do digital public affairs work at Edelman, a communications firm in Washington, D.C., where one of my clients is Hilex Poly, an American manufacturer of plastic bags made from recycled materials.

I am writing because I saw your post on Nancy Floreen’s reusable bags, and your caution to readers about the potential dangers of reusables, and thought you might be interested in this video we produced to help educate consumers on how to properly clean and store their reusable bags. As the operator of the world’s largest plastic bag recycling facility, Hilex Poly hopes to see solutions such as recycling initiatives, rather than bans or taxes on plastic bags.

If you would like to speak with someone at Hilex Poly for any other posts you have planned on this issue, I would be happy to set something up for you. We are also working on a number of additional videos and interactive facts sheets that I can share with you if you think they would be of interest to your readers. Thank you for your time!


Claudia Holwill
Edelman | Digital Public Affairs
1875 I Street NW, Suite 900, Washington, DC 20006