Chase went on John Carlson’s radio show to discuss the detrimental effects the manufacturing and disposal of both types of bags have on the environment. She said that neither type of bag is recycled at sustainable rates. She also debated with Stephen Joseph, who represents a pro-plastic bag organization. You can hear part 1 of the interview here and part 2 here.
Chase discussed the unsustainability of continuing to manufacture and use plastic and paper bags at current rates. The production of both types of bags uses high levels of energy. In fact, the production of paper bags takes four times the amount of energy and water as do plastic. Not to mention the amount of trees necessary to produce the approximately 10 billion paper bags consumed in our country each year.
Plastic bags are equally if not more destructive to the environment. Plastic bag production uses petroleum and natural gas – both nonrenewable fossil fuels. Plastic bags will never completely decompose, but will take up to 1,000 years to break down into smaller pieces which seep into the soil and groundwater.
Perhaps the most heartbreaking effect of plastic bags is the impact they have on marine life. Once they reach our oceans they are mistaken for food sources and eaten by many varieties of marine life. In 2010, more than 20 plastic bags and other garbage were found in the stomach of a beached gray whale in Puget Sound.
“I think that we as a state must begin to take a position that we would like to leave our children and our grandchildren with a sustainable world. That we don’t so foul the nest that they aren’t able to meet their own needs,” Chase said during testimony Wednesday in the Senate Environment Committee.
Also heard on Wednesday was SB 5779, which would ban the use of certain polystyrene food containers and unrecyclable utensils in our state with compostable and recyclable alternatives. Chase, the bill’s prime sponsor, said something needs to be done about these products overwhelming our state’s landfills, costing millions of dollars to dispose of and generally doing harm to our environment.
“We have a large and growing problem with non-biodegradable and non-recyclable products in our state and we cannot sustain it,” Chase said. “People want options and we need to make sure these better choices are available.”
You can watch testimony of both bills below.