The July 7 editorial “An ocean of plastic” highlighted the plastics pollution crisis but did not mention the most practical solutions.
My wife and I live in Amelia County, Va., near Richmond, and host of the Maplewood landfill, operated by Waste Management. This is one of Virginia’s seven major regional landfills that accept municipal wastes — including plastics — daily.
These facilities process wastes that cannot be handled in major urban locations, such as New York City. Since New York City closed its Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island, the city has transported its municipal wastes out of state.
Almost 20 years ago, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond ruled municipal waste may be traded state to state, recognizing New York’s right to transport waste to Virginia.
Along with isolating wastes from the biosphere, today’s landfills also capture organic gases, generated by decomposition, and generate electricity. Without sophisticated landfills in Virginia and elsewhere, plastics pollution would be far worse — right now.
We need to expand our waste collection and landfill operations. This is the most practical way to address what could become an overwhelming issue.
Stuart V. Price, Amelia Court House, Va.
The July 7 editorial “An ocean of plastic” was right in calling for national recycling standards, but it left out the duty of manufacturers to minimize their products’ impacts on society. Much like the “polluter pays” principle, the greatest responsibility for minimizing a product’s environmental impacts throughout its life cycle lies with the producers themselves. Products and their packaging put into commerce should be designed to make the return of their discards by consumers for reuse, recycling and/or composting as easy as it is for purchasing new products.
Until we require such “closed loop” manufacturing processes, the plastic waste problem will continue.
Amy Maron, Bethesda
The writer is zero waste lead for the Sierra Club Montgomery County Group.