Puma has dealt the latest blow to chemical industry lobbyists fighting to keep the plastic bag alive. The company recently announced that it has started using bags for shoppers that are fully compostable. For a fun party trick, you can also submerge them in water and watch them disappear in seconds.
I live in Hawaii, the state closest to the giant Pacific garbage patch known as the Pacific Gyre. Twice the size of Texas, the Gyre’s actual density is hard to measure, but some estimates put it at around 335,000 pieces of plastic per square kilometer, roughly 7 times as many particles as zooplankton. You would think that a state so dependent on tourism as Hawaii would be the first to proactively ban plastic debris like those painful-to-watch single use plastic shopping bags. They litter beaches, flutter about on even gentle breezes, and quickly escape tourists too busy to keep an eye on their stuff while enjoying our beautiful sunsets.
Recently, Maui and Kauai made strides in the plastic bag ban, but Oahu, the island with by far the largest population and highest number of tourists, had its plastic bag fee (fee, mind you, not outright ban) derailed last year. The American Chemistry Council (ACC), the lobbying front group for many chemical manufacturers, had a large part to play. The ACC keeps Hawaii’s State Representative Joe Souki on retainer with a “consulting fee” of $24,000 per year. Not surprisingly, Souki helped derail Oahu’s attempt to add a plastic bag fee (and another bill that would have banned styrofoam from Maui, but that’s another story).
The ACC can continue to fight the patchwork regulatory environment around this issue. It’s not just San Francisco anymore…China, Mexico City, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda and many more have bans in place. They’d need to keep fighting each municipality and putting legislators on “consulting retainers”, but the bottom line is the ACC SIMPLY…CAN…NOT…FIGHT… PUMA!
The ACC and other lobbying groups for petrochemical companies need to take note: you’re fighting a losing battle. Get on the bandwagon and figure out how to make money in the green economy.
Scott Cooney is the author of Build a Green Small Business (McGraw-Hill), and covers green business strategy on GreenBusinessOwner.com.
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