Acc's Activities

Plastic Makers Approached the Filmmakers

As depicted in the film "Bag It!", filmmakers contacted a representative of the American Chemistry Council and recorded the telephone conversation without the representative's knowledge. Various showings of the unfinished film confirmed that it was not intended to be an unbiased documentary, and we decided not to participate. The "industry voice" mockingly characterized in the film was not an ACC employee.

American Chemistry Council's Discussions with the Author

Several members of the American Chemistry Council met or spoke with the author of "Plastic: A Toxic Love Story" on multiple occasions. We were disappointed that our views were not represented on key issues, including marine debris, recycling and the safety of our products.

We were particularly disappointed in the book's representation of our views on recycling. For over 20 years, plastics recycling has been and continues to be a priority for the American Chemistry Council. Over the last two decades, plastics makers and plastics recyclers together have spent more than $2 billion on developing technologies, building infrastructure and increasing education to grow plastics recycling in the United States. Plastics makers—our members—have funded or launched programs to recycle plastic bags and product wraps in five states and three major counties; sponsored tracking reports to document annual progress in recycling bottles, bags and wraps, and containers; and reached out to consumers with tips and innovative new products made with recycled content.

Plastic Makers' Lobbying Efforts

The film "Bag It!" takes significant liberties in its depiction of ACC's efforts to promote plastics recycling and of our participation in the legislative process. Contrary to what is depicted in the film, our preference and practice has been to work constructively with communities, NGOs and customers to provide strategies and solutions, including use reduction strategies, enhanced recycling opportunities, public awareness, youth education, and litter abatement programs.

And in one important respect the film is simply wrong: ACC has not been a party to the referenced lawsuits against communities in California, as erroneously stated in the film.

Seattle Voters Reject Plastic Bag Tax

As noted in the film "Bag It!", in August 2009 Seattle voters rejected a referendum to impose a tax on plastic and paper shopping bags. The tax would have required shoppers in the city to pay twenty cents for every bag they accepted at grocery, drug and convenience store checkout counters.

At the heart of drives to ban or tax bags are concerns about litter and material use. We believe that there are better and more effective ways to make progress in those areas than bans or taxes. Seattle's own polls showed that the tax was widely unpopular among residents, and we believe increased recycling and education are better ways to address litter of all types than imposing a tax on working families.

As Faye Garneau, a small business owner, Seattle resident and member of Coalition to Stop The Seattle Bag Tax, put it: "I think Seattle voters showed that they care about the environment but didn't think a tax in a troubled economy was the right approach to keeping Seattle green."

Data show that more than 90 percent of Seattle residents reuse and recycle plastic bags. Seattle shoppers today can bring plastic shopping bags, dry-cleaning bags, bread bags, wraps from paper towels and bathroom tissue—even plastic bags used to deliver newspapers—to grocery stores and other participating retailers for recycling.

Seattle is one of many jurisdictions that have rebuffed efforts to tax or ban shopping bags. Communities around the country have considered whether to promote reusable bags or recycling plastic or paper bags and predominately have chosen an "all of the above" approach: when possible bring and use reusable bags when shopping, reuse plastic and paper bags at home, and return extra plastic bags to grocery stores for recycling.

ACC was a member of the Coalition to Stop the Seattle Bag Tax and a principal funder of its efforts to educate voters about recycling and the impact of the proposed tax.