The plastic bag industry, lead by South Carolina based Hilex Poly is at it again, this time spending an estimated $3 million to find the 500,000 signatures needed to stall California’s Bag Ban Law. Hilex Poly has a long record of spending big money on lawyers, litigation and lobbyists, so this tactic is no surprise.
In 2007, shortly after San Francisco passed the fist successful plastic bag ban in the United States, Hilex Poly was involved in a costly lawsuit against the City of Oakland which killed their aspirations to follow San Francisco’s lead. After this successful lawsuit, the plastic bag companies hid behind a front group called the “Save the Plastic Bag Coalition” and used the threat of litigation to try to curb the backlash that was growing against their product. They brought their arguments the whole way to the California Supreme Court and lost.
Not phased, in 2011, in an apparent act of desperation, Hilex Poly sued reusable bag maker, ChicoBag, claiming that their marketing was causing irreparable harm to their business. The lawsuit was settled with among other things, Hilex Poly agreeing to focus some of their effort on lessening their product’s ability to become wind-blown litter. There is no indication that Hilex Poly has made any effort to honor their agreement.
Ironically, if Hilex Poly would have taken a small fraction of their litigation budget to address the legitimate environmental concerns regarding their product, namely – to reduce their product’s ability to fly away despite proper disposal, they would probably not be facing a state-wide ban in California and elsewhere.
If you are wondering about the graphic, it is from the Gorilla in the Greenhouse video which was made back in 2010. The plastic bag industry would most likely point out that the plastic island depicted in this cartoon is not based on reality – that there is not a plastic island in the Pacific. They are right, this island is unfortunately just a metaphor. An island would actually be able to be cleaned up. The “Garbage Patch” is most accurately described as a massive plastic soup which is described by the 5 Gyres scientists as impossible to clean up and that a reduction in unnecessary single-use plastic is the solution.