Wake up daily to our latest coverage of business done better, directly in your inbox.


Get your weekly dose of analysis on rising corporate activism.

Select Newsletter

By signing up you agree to our privacy policy. You can opt out anytime.

Scott C headshot

Plastic Bags Take Another Hit with Puma

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.

Follow GreenBusinessOwner.com on Twitter: Twitter.com/GreenBizOwner

Scott Cooney headshotScott Cooney

Scott Cooney, Principal of GreenBusinessOwner.com and author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill, November 2008), is also a serial ecopreneur who has started and grown several green businesses and consulted several other green startups. He co-founded the ReDirect Guide, a green business directory, in Salt Lake City, UT. He greened his home in Salt Lake City, including xeriscaping, an organic orchard, extra natural fiber insulation, a 1.8kW solar PV array, on-demand hot water, energy star appliances, and natural paints. He is a vegetarian, an avid cyclist, ultimate frisbee player, and surfer, and currently lives in the sunny Mission district of San Francisco. Scott is working on his second book, a look at microeconomics in the green sector. In June 2010, Scott launched GreenBusinessOwner.com, a sustainability consulting firm dedicated to providing solutions to common business problems by leveraging the power of the triple bottom line. Focused exclusively on small business, GBO's mission is to facilitate the creation and success of small, green businesses.

Read more stories by Scott Cooney

More stories from Leadership & Transparency