Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

The One Word Still Is 'Plastics'

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

The One Word Still Is 'Plastics'

Article excerpt

You have to love the sea turtle, among the most resilient species on the planet. Some species of sea turtles are said to have been around for 157 million years. They have survived war and rumor of war, storm and rough sea. And so far they have survived mankind, which has abused their habitat.

The question, though, is will the sea turtle survive plastic?

Yes, I know the newspaper you may be reading was likely delivered in a plastic sleeve. And yet the truth persists.

Plastic, in any form, is hard to get rid of, hard to recycle, hard to destroy once it is made. Hence, it becomes litter, detritus, and in the polyethylene form, the plastic bag, part of what the late writer Norman Mailer once described as "the excrement of oil."

Why focus on plastic just now? Well, a couple of reasons.

One has roots in a recent New York Times story, by former Record staffer Tatiana Schlossberg, in which she reported on a new comprehensive study that provides some long-needed analysis in regard to what we know, and don't, about plastic. As The Times reported, "from the 1950s to today, 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic have been produced, with around half of it made since 2004."

The authors of the study, titled "Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made," published in Science Advances, remind us, in part, what we already know, that our waterways, roadsides and landfills are accumulating plastic at a scarily rapid rate, primarily due to packaging. Yes, the dreaded plastic bags.

So what are we to do? Well, we might look to the Township Council of Teaneck, which earlier this month approved a 5-cent fee for shoppers who request a disposal plastic bag at a store.

As Staff Writer Megan Burrow reports, the fee will not be enforced for another year. The delay is meant to allow time to educate customers and businesses about the change. Mayor Mohammed Hameeduddin said the one-year delay might also give the Legislature time to take up a similar bill pending in the Assembly. That bill is sponsored by two North Jersey legislators, Assemblywoman Valerie Huttle and Assemblyman Tim Eustace.

Teaneck is the first town in North Jersey to enact such a plastic bag initiative, though the move toward plastic bag bans has been picking up steam elsewhere. …

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