The new new bag defenders

FYI bag warriors:

In January, the American Chemistry Council handed over defense of the plastic bag to the Society for the Plastics Industry — plastic’s older, but smaller and poorer trade association. The advocacy team, now operating under the name  the American Progressive Bag Alliance, is  headed by Dave Asselin, a former vice president of allied associations at the National Association of Manufacturers and counts five to six full-time members.

This marks at least the third generation of industry defenders. When the first anti-bag measures began cropping up in California around 2004, the major bag manufacturers, unable to rouse help from either the ACC or SPI, pooled resources, set up a fund of about $500,000 and started their own pro-bag campaign. By 2008, so many communities were proposing bag restrictions, the manufacturers couldn’t keep up, so the better-funded and  battle-tested ACC took over the task. Now it’s the SPI’s turn to try to save the plastic bag.

Its campaign is still getting off the ground but in a recent story in Plastics News, SPI president Bill Carteaux described the current approach to the never-ending fight over plastic shopping bags:

“We are being very aggressive on that issue,” he said. “We have filed petitions with local governments to find out where they are getting their information, and I have talked and issued statements on why plastic bags are better than paper bags and positioned the sustainability solution — and not a bad thing.”

The bag alliance has used the SPI database on jobs and plastic industry statistics to outline and explain the number of jobs the plastic bag industry provides in areas where legislators are considering bans.

“We can go into a municipality and talk about actual jobs and the economic value of the plastic bag industry,” he said. “I don’t think we ever realized how the size and the impact of the plastics industry can help us” deal with this issue.


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