ISRI Issues Statement on Bans and Fees for Disposable Shopping Bags

Instead of bans and fees, association says a free market system boosts recycling of paper and plastic bags.

August 6, 2013
Recycling Today Staff
Legislation & Regulations Paper Plastics

At its July board meeting, the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries Inc. (ISRI), based in Washington, D.C., formulated and released a policy that addresses efforts to ban or apply fees to single-use shopping bags.The association says these regulations fail to look at the impact that recycling of these bags has on the market.

“ISRI members that recycle paper and plastic bags are quite concerned that policymakers are banning bags and creating fees without considering the real impact on recycling and the recycling industry,” says Robin Wiener, president of ISRI. “No matter how good the intentions, these policy discussions should not be made in a vacuum. Rather than bans and fees that take away jobs and increase costs to consumers, policy makers should take advantage of the great economic and environmental opportunities associated with responsibly recycling these bags.”
Joel Litman, president of Texas Recycling/Surplus Inc. and ISRI’s Paper Stock Industries chapter, says, “Policymakers and consumers are often surprised to learn the important economic role that paper and plastic bags play in the continuous life cycle of paper and plastic products. Our company is designed to recycle these bags into valuable commodity-grade materials that are then sold to manufacturing plants to make finished products around the globe. This is a win-win for the local economy and the environment.”
ISRI’s recently released policy encourages retailers to provide convenient collection of plastic bags. The association says increased efforts by retailers to collect and recycle used bags will offer the convenience paper and plastic bags provide while reaping the environmental and economic benefits of recycling. In 2011, ISRI points out that an estimated 151 million pounds of bags and sacks were collected for recycling, a 19 percent increase from the prior year.
ISRI’s policy calls for:

  • Promoting a free and fair, competitive, market-based system for the trade of recyclable materials such as paper and plastic bags;
  • Supporting a competitive marketplace that does not restrict, direct or interfere with the free flow of recyclable materials;
  • Opposing bans and fees on paper and plastic bags that are being manufactured into useful commodity-grade materials and sold into viable, commercial markets without subsidies or noncompetitive, fixed pricing;
  • Promoting the recycling and economic opportunities associated with the collection, processing and reuse in finished products such as paper and plastic bags; and
  • Supporting requiring retailers to provide convenient collection of plastic bags in their stores for recycling.