Statement from Clean Water Action Opposing the Use of Clear Plastic Bags for Recycling

Wednesday, August 7, 2019
MA_Plastic bags_recycling

We appreciate many elements of Worcester’s proposed Clean City Program that will educate the public, create new waste programs, and reduce litter in the city.  However, the provision to mandate clear plastic bags for recycling is not going to reduce waste--in fact it is wasteful--and there is little empirical evidence to justify its inclusion.  

The plan to couple together sales of recycling bags with yellow ‘Pay As You Throw’ (PAYT) bags is flawed for many reasons. First, it requires residents to pay for recycling, thereby locking recycling access behind a monetary barrier. This conflicts with the city’s current ‘pay as you throw’ system and replaces it with a "pay to recycle" policy. Second, by making recycling even less accessible than it already is, the policy will promote litter.  If the bags are ripped or damaged on the street, it is harder to replace their contents than with a reusable bin.  

Clean Water Action urges the City Council to vote down this aspect of the proposal.  We further urge the City to consider allowing additional public feedback as there is widespread exasperation from community members and leaders regarding this plan, and many have ideas for improvement.  As other cities’ experience has shown time and again, community buy-in is critical for successful implementation of waste policy in particular, as it touches every household and business in Worcester.

A good policy for Worcester would establish fair costs for low- and fixed-income residents while promoting sustainability and community engagement.  Adding plastic recycling bags to the PAYT yellow bag system, and phasing out the green bins with which residents are familiar, is neither good for the community nor good for the environment.

Since our founding during the campaign to pass the landmark Clean Water Act in 1972, Clean Water Action has worked to win strong health and environmental protections by bringing issue expertise, solution-oriented thinking and people power to the table. We will protect clean water in the face of attacks from a polluter friendly Administration. www.cleanwater.org/ma

 

Vick Mohanka
508-451-4188
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