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Reducing waste is hard. Who really knows what packaging is safe to recycle or compost when labeling standards are weak, companies regularly get away with green fraud, and seemingly every city has a different sorting game to play with bins? Straightforward rules and enforceable standardization would certainly go a long way toward clearing things up.
Even with the confusion, most people agree plastic bags suck. Perhaps sensing that we’re finally catching on, plastic bag makers have unleashed the greenwashers to make tiny changes to their product (like add a little metal) and then make up stories about how the “new” bags just disappear like magic.
In 2010, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission proposed some recommendations for environmental marketing claims. Since then, the market-regulating agency has actually started actively eradicating eco-bullshit.
Last year, the FTC cracked down on unsubstantiated claims of “biodegradable” and “compostable” bags. The Guardian’s Circular Economy series updates us on the latest distorted marketing word, “oxodegradable”:
Last month, the FTC sent warning letters to 15 additional marketers, informing them that their claims “may be deceptive”. The FTC also requested “competent and reliable scientific evidence proving that their bags will biodegrade as advertised”. This time, the term of offense is “oxodegradable”, implying the bag will break down in time when exposed to oxygen.
Though the names of the companies have not been released by the FTC, all are said to market traditional plastic products that have been amended with additives –metals, typically – intended to break the bags down in the presence of oxygen. As many bags are dumped in the low-oxygen environment of a landfill, the FTC has said those advertised benefits are dubious.
More to the point, isn’t the goal of making biodegradable products that they don’t have to go in a landfill at all? Food scraps are super biodegradable, and that’s why they go in the green bin or a compost pile. Biodegrading into nutritious soil in the landfill is worthless.
In the Guardian piece, sustainable manufacturing expert Joseph Greene, a professor at California State University, Chico, points out that “oxodegradable” should be amended to “oxofragmentable” to be more accurate.
Plastics just break into smaller and smaller pieces. Chemically, they don’t break down into anything less hazardous. In fact, if these plastic bags disintegrate in the ocean, they’ll surely be just about the right size for sea creatures to mistake them for plankton.
The plastic bag industry shouldn’t feel too threatened by the trend toward BYOBag to the grocery store: We still sack up our produce and bulk items in 100 billion plastic bags a year. States and cities are launching plastic bag bans left and right, but those are baby steps at best. Even when cities “ban” plastic bags, what do shoppers put their fruits and veggies in? Plastic bags. To make a real dent, we may have to wait for Plastic Bag Ban 2.0 — a rule that applies to more than the checkout line.
Paper or plastic? In California, the latter may soon no longer be an option and the former may come at a cost.
On Friday, the state Legislature passed a bill banning the use of plastic bags at California grocery stores, pharmacies, liquor stores and other businesses. If signed by Gov. Jerry Brown,...
SHREVEPORT, La. — Ronpak, Inc. celebrates its newest Shreveport-Bossier manufacturing center and corporate headquarters today (June 26, 2013) with a ribbon cutting and building dedication ceremony. The new 155,000 square foot paper mill at the Port of Caddo-Bossier produces 5 million customized bags a day for clients.
“We are very proud of all the hard work by our employees and business partners, who helped us to realize the vision that began with my parents, Nathan and Dina Sedley. The growth of our family-owned business was built on putting our customers and employees first. With that in mind, I am dedicating our newest manufacturing center in memory of my parents, Nathan and Dina, whose vision and corporate philosophy guided our company to its current success,” said Ronald Sedley, Ronpak Chairman of the Board and CEO.
Sedley was be joined by Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover, Bossier City Mayor Lorenz Walker, Caddo Commission President Lindora Baker, Bossier Police Jury President Jimmy Cochran and the Port of Caddo-Bossier Commission President Erica Bryant. Additionally, Louisiana Senators Sherri Smith Buffington, Barrow Peacock, and Representatives Roy Burrell, Henry Burns, Barbara Norton, Alan Seabaugh, and Patrick Williams helped mark the opening of the nation's first paper bag plant in the last decade.
In May 2012, Ronpak announced the relocation of the company's corporate headquarters from South Plainfield, New Jersey to Shreveport-Bossier, Louisiana. This decision came a year after the company announced it would build a $16.8 million manufacturing facility with equipment at the Port of Caddo-Bossier. This plant is Ronpak’s first new manufacturing location since 1985. The project is expected to create 275 new direct jobs. Louisiana Economic Development estimates another 783 new indirect jobs will also be created, leading to a total of more than 1,000 new jobs for North Louisiana.
“Two years ago when Ronpak first located a temporary manufacturing facility at the Port of Caddo-Bossier, we were focused on meeting the needs of our clients and fulfilling their demands. We were able to accomplish that very quickly, thanks to support from the people of North Louisiana and our state, regional and local partners,” said Sedley.
“I extend my gratitude and thanks to Governor Bobby Jindal; Louisiana Economic Development, led by Secretary Stephen Moret; LED’s FastStart, led by Jeff Lynn and our FastStart representative, Paul Helton; the Port of Caddo-Bossier, led by Executive Port Director Eric England and the Port Commissioners; the mayors and local elected officials of the City of Shreveport, the City of Bossier City, the Caddo Commission and the Bossier Police Jury; Red River Waterway Commission; North Louisiana Economic Partnership, and our contractor Wieland Davco. Their assistance was invaluable during the entire start-up process.”
Ronpak Inc. is a leading manufacturer of custom-printed paper bags, packages and food wraps. Since Ronpak's founding in 1947, the company has constantly developed new products to meet customer demand, and often those efforts include working with Ronpak's paper mills to develop new papers that have new properties. In addition to Louisiana, the company's locations include manufacturing locations in New Jersey and California. For more information, visit www.ronpak.com.
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