PLASTICS ARE BAD FOR OUR BEACHES AND ENVIRONMENT
This past Saturday, Revere residents and members of Environment Massachusetts cleared garbage, mostly single-use plastic, from Revere Beach. The sand might be plastic-free for now, but you’ll see those volunteers again next year and the year after that, because no matter how many cleanups a town hosts, we simply produce more plastic waste than we can pick up.
Recycling isn’t the answer, either. Only 9% of our plastic waste gets recycled. Even the stuff that makes it to the little blue bins is not guaranteed to be recycled. In the last year, China’s upgraded standard of purity on recyclables imports has meant that U.S. recycling plants have been unable to export their recyclables abroad. Strapped for space, they have resorted to dumping their product into landfills.
We just don’t have space for all this junk. That’s why it washes up on Revere Beach and why it will continue to do so until we confront the plastic crisis at the production level.
A good place to start is with plastic polystyrene (known as styrofoam). Half of all plastic waste is comprised of packaging, polystyrene being the ubiquitous packaging material. A statewide ban on polystyrene, like the one flatlining in the state legislature, would significantly reduce Massachusetts’ single-use plastic consumption and would set an example for the rest of the nation.
The Massachusetts Polystyrene Ban won’t pass this year, but global efforts to move beyond single-use plastics are gaining ground. By putting pressure on local legislators, Massachusetts could achieve the same.
Henry Hintermeister, Medford