Letter: Less plastic for our community

Posted 12/23/22

In November, the Springfield Township Board of Commissioners voted 4-3 against advancing a single-use plastic bag prohibition.

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Letter: Less plastic for our community


   In November, the Springfield Township Board of Commissioners voted 4-3 against advancing a single-use plastic bag prohibition, despite the fact that the commissioners were presented with surveys showing 80% of township residents support a single-use plastic bag ban. Thirty-eight area townships in Montco, Bucks, Chester, and Delaware are working on plastic bag bans, and eight have already passed them, as has Philadelphia. Our neighboring states of New Jersey, Delaware, and New York all have bans in place. 

        Plastics are in every part of our lives and they are toxic to produce, and toxic to dispose of.  Climate-warming methane and carbon dioxide are produced in the drilling for oil and gas, pipelines destroy our countryside and leak into streams, and more carbon dioxide is produced in the actual production of plastic. Plastics last up to 400 years in landfills and don't break down into safe components. Burning plastics creates toxic fumes and micro-fibers in the air.

        Yet plastics are in everything, including inside almost every living animal. There is research to show that the microplastics in the human body lead to a variety of diseases and conditions including Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s. The list of household items that have plastic in them is almost endless but many of these items are durable. The average use-time of a single-use plastic bag is 12 minutes, and they can’t be recycled due to their thinness.  I personally counted 300 single use bags coming out of a nearby Giant store in one hour. In Springfield, we needlessly use approximately 5,000 single-use bags every day, approximately 2 million a year.

         What would a thoughtfully-crafted single-use plastic bag ban do? It would prohibit retailers from providing single-use plastic bags to customers. It would charge 10 cents for a 40% recycled paper bag. Enforcement of the ban would take effect one year from passage. It exempts little bags for deli and produce, and dry cleaning bags. The purpose of the ban is to have our residents switch to bringing stitched reusable bags, made of recycled plastic, jute, or cotton whenever they shop. Each reusable bag lasts for about 10 years and saves approximately 1000 single-use bags.

The commissioners had the opportunity to reduce Springfield’s plastic use by banning single-use plastic bags, but they refused. We know single-use plastic bags are convenient, but don’t you want a safer, healthier world for you and your children?  Please email your commissioner and make sure they represent your view. There is still an opportunity to move this effort forward. Commissioner emails are on the Springfield township website. With your voice, we can do this.

Richard Metz