By Claire Arkin, GAIA
We all know that single-use plastics are a big problem: they crowd our landfills, pollute our waterways, and are a contributor to toxic pollution when burned. When it comes to throwaway plastics, the good news is, we don’t need them in the first place! The bad news is, the plastic industry wants to continue producing more and more of the stuff in the coming decades. The American Chemistry Council (representing plastic companies) are quick to suggest incineration as the key to the plastic waste problem (a convenient excuse to keep up production).
Dow Chemical is the largest producer of plastic chemicals in the world, and has a lot of skin in this game. So they’ve come up with a “solution” to “previously non-recycled plastics”: just burn it! In their pilot program of the Hefty Energy Bag in Omaha, NE, they have told citizens that they can “recycle” their single-use plastic by collecting them in orange bags, which are then sent to be burned in a cement kiln that has violated the Clean Air Act.
Not only can burning plastic produce some of the most toxic chemicals on earth, like carbon monoxide and dioxin, contributing to the endangerment of the health of communities living nearby, it reinforces the idea that the plastic pollution problem can just be burned away. Plastic is made from fossil fuels, and in order to make sure we have a liveable planet for generations to come, we need to transition to a circular economy where our products can be easily reused or recycled, not produced from scratch using greenhouse gases.
Now is the time to say no to greenwashing stunts like the Hefty Energy Bag, and yes to the real solutions that Americans across the country are working on every day. Cities across the country have committed to a zero waste goal, and are banning problem plastics, like styrofoam, plastic bags, and plastic straws. Reusable alternatives to non-recyclable plastic are making it easier to #breakfreefromplastic. Join us to demand a just, equitable, non-toxic, zero waste world where the Hefty Energy Bag program would have no plastic to burn.
Send a message that you will not support the Hefty Energy Bag in your city, and let’s expose the truth behind the bag!
GAIA is a worldwide alliance of more than 800 grassroots groups, non-governmental organizations, and individuals in over 90 countries whose ultimate vision is a just, toxic-free world without incineration.