A Sack Standoff in the Checkout Aisle

The plastic bags shoppers use to carry their goods home from the store have become an environmental battleground, and statistics are a key weapon in the fight.

Cities around the U.S. have banned or considered banning the bags because of their environmental impact. Manufacturers of the sacks have dueled with environmentalists and makers of reusable bags over carbon footprints. And last week, a maker of reusable bags settled a lawsuit filed by a plastic-bag manufacturer over competing numerical claims on bags’ imprint on the environment.

Reusable-bag makers, which market sacks made of sturdy canvas or recycled plastic meant for years or a lifetime of use, claim disposable plastic bags impose a big burden on the environment and deplete fossil fuels. Plastic-bag makers counter that a large proportion of their bags are reused or recycled, and that reusable bags must be washed frequently, diminishing their green credentials.

NUMBGUY

Associated PressA recent suit laid bare how much remains unknown about plastic and reusable bags’ environmental impact.

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Virginia Considering Plastic Bag Ban

The Washington Post reported last week that the Virginia state legislature is considering a ban on plastic bags. Hoping to become more environmentally forward thinking, the state commented to the Post:

The ubiquitous bags are blamed for choking birds and fish, floating into trees, rooftops and streets and sticking around years longer than paper.

“We’re wasting energy. We’re polluting,” said Del. Adam P. Ebbin (D-Alexandria).

Virginia is not known for progressive environmental policy, but some lawmakers want to help the state find a place in the green movement.

One proposal would force stores to ban thin, single-use bags and allow only sturdy, reusable bags. Others would require stores to recycle plastic bags or charge customers a nickel for every bag the customers receive, and the money would go toward cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay.

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