Acadia environment prof explains why he’s against banning plastic bags
An Acadia University professor doesn’t think banning plastic bags is the right course of action.
Dr. David Duke thinks reusing plastic bags is a better solution
Duke is a professor in the Environment and Sustainability Studies program at Acadia. He says the real question a ban addressed is not regarding carbon impact from plastic bags, but rather their contributions to pollution.
Referencing a 2018 Danish study, Duke argues alternative bags people use to carry grocery items home, in lieu of single-use plastic bags, “will have different and significant environmental impacts that may not be apparent in the debate.”
“If you really want to address the plastic pollution issue… there is only one sure-fire way to do it properly: education and the provision of convenient recycling,” he says.
Duke says this approach would ensure plastic is kept out of the environment and sorted, where it belongs, within the consumption and reuse cycle.
He also maintains addition of new resources – alternative bag options like cotton tote bags – would no longer be required.
“The solution is to encourage the use of reusable and recyclable plastic bags. These can be used many times and when they begin to break they can be recycled,” he says.
Duke says these bags fall within the concept of convenient recycling since they last through 40 to 50 uses and are later recycled. But he says there must be government buy-in for this concept and further environment education for it to work.
“The government looks like it’s doing something for the environment, and on one level it is, but it’s doing so only on that one level, and it may be making the problem worse elsewhere,” he says.
Duke would support taxing plastic bags, with funds raised going toward improving recycling facilities and making reusable and fully-recyclable plastic totes cheaper and more accessible.
This could be augmented with a sharp increase in penalties for improper plastic disposal.
“If we want to nudge people’s behaviour into new directions using policy, this would be a better way to do it, in my opinion,” he says.
Acadia University professor Dr. David Duke says reusing plastic bags instead of banning them would be a better way to fight the pollution impact on the environment.