Cheers to Mayor Brandon Scott for his initiatives to reduce plastic waste through supporting and rolling out the upcoming plastic bag ban and expanding curbside recycling capacity for city residents. I am thrilled that recycling will be easier for Baltimore families and public works employees so we can reduce the amount of waste ending up littering our communities and piling up in landfills or our incinerator.
But don’t be fooled by the beverage industry’s claims that expanded recycling will solve our plastic crisis (”Here’s how Baltimore will soon boost its recycling rate,” July 2). As some of the world’s leading producers of plastic waste, the beverage industry has been using recycling as an excuse to oppose more effective solutions for years, knowing full well it won’t work. They have also fought against state and federal bottle bills, largely considered the best public policy to reduce bottle waste and lobbied hard to stop laws which would hold them responsible for the waste they produce.
After decades of bearing the financial and public health impacts of industry waste, municipalities and states are passing restrictions on single use plastic and the industry is returning to their old playbook to protect their profits. As Melissa Valliant recently explained in The Sun, “even with improvements to the system, recycling will never be able to keep up with plastic production, which is expected to quadruple between 2014 and 2050.”
The “Every Bottle Back” initiative is an attempt to save the beverage industry, not the planet. It’s time to turn off the tap on single-use plastics, hold industry accountable for the waste they produce and shift to more sustainable materials for our packaging. That’s what will get us to a true circular economy.
Emily Scarr, Baltimore
The writer is Maryland Public Interest Research Group director.
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