March 9, 2013

The March 5 editorial “Throwaway arguments” suggested that a drop in plastic bag use equates to a reduction in litter. This is not correct. The only measure for a reduction in litter is a reduction in litter. And my anecdotal evidence tells me the number of plastic bags littering our environment has not diminished. People who littered before the 5-cent Montgomery County bag tax continue to litter. The only things this frivolous, nuisance tax has done is (1) annoy environmentally friendly folks who were good custodians of the environment before and (2) irritate cashiers and baggers.

How about replacing these silly, bothersome taxes, which negatively affect every resident, with an onerous fine for littering ($500 or $1,000?) directed at the small percentage of violators? Does every government law have to be a machete instead of a scalpel?

Harold A. Manger, Darnestown

The last thing Maryland should do is impose a tax on complementary plastic bags. The argument that low-income residents don’t want added costs on groceries isn’t based on anything more than fact. At a time when food prices are rising, imposing a regressive tax on people already struggling to make ends meet is deeply irresponsible.

Plastic bags are environmentally preferable to paper and reusable bags. Paper bags use far more energy and water to produce than plastic bags do, and reusable bags cannot be recycled. Cloth bags aren’t better, either. They require large amounts of pesticides for cotton growth and need to be used 131 times to be a better environmental option than a plastic bag used once.

My industry is committed to sustainability. We’ve been progressive, encouraging recycling because it’s the best solution for the environment and for business. Recycled bags enable the production of products we use daily, like piping and backyard decking. Taxing bags hurts our environment and threatens jobs. We should encourage Maryland to make the right call: Support recycling, not another tax.

Bill Ebeck, Sugar Land, Tex.

The writer is vice president of Advance Polybag.