Peter Brown: Plastic Priceless (or Clueless)

I remember as a kid, picking a Nalgene up from a neighborhood water fountain, running outside with one hand and pouring it from a plastic cup with the other.

When I was older, I probably carried more than a few giant plastic aluminum forks.

What happened to all those pieces of plastic? None of them are recyclable, and the plastic used to make these products is made from renewable resources like fiberglass.

Now, according to one report, the plastic we’re eating or carrying around every day could be even more of a hazard to the environment.

The government is considering a plan to ban single-use plastic plates, cutlery and cups — which would save millions of plastic barrels, 5 million tons of oil, and 39,000 tons of plastic annually.

As a result, according to the report, those brands using products that would be banned would be dumping billions of extra pounds of plastic into landfills.

But the New York-based plastics manufacturer Polyethylene Producer Association told the Wall Street Journal the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would only be discouraging firms from using the products at a time when the U.S. is just starting to reduce its reliance on plastic products.

But making the move would be easy. In fact, several counties in California have already banned plastic polypropylene — including the world’s biggest producer of the materials.

And yet, those counties still use more than twice as much plastic than the next largest supplier.

As the WSJ reported, those counties in California are using 38 billion more plastic cups and paper plates than any of their nearest competitors, and they’re using 13 billion more cups and plates than are necessary.

For most consumers, this will not be a problem. Even single-use plastic cutlery isn’t made from palm oil or sugar cane; it’s made from USDA-approved animal feed and corn-based ethanol.

In fact, according to another report, only a small number of plastics contain palm oil, and companies like Smith-Kline Beecham are even looking into finding a replacement for it.

So don’t panic. These huge moves against plastics will hurt no one and will do very little to make the world a healthier place.

Peter Brown is a Tea Party-supported radio talk show host in Hampton, Virginia. To listen to a clip of his program, please click here. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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