HB 2500 Bad for Environment
The advancement of the new bill HB2500 in West Virginia is a prime example of the conscious ignorance of many of the state’s politicians.
The bill says “a local unit of government (county, municipality, or city) may not adopt or enforce an ordinance that regulates the use, disposition, and sale of auxiliary containers. These “auxiliary containers” include: bags, cups, bottles, and other packaging made of cloth, paper, plastic, cardboard, aluminum, glass, or multilayer substrates.
The bill basically makes it impossible for local communities to tackle the enormous problem of plastic pollution in our environment. It also affects citizens’ health as they are exposed to the toxic chemicals found in plastics.
The world produces over 400 million tons of plastic a year, and single-use plastic packaging accounts for over 40 percent of that quantity. Yet, only a small fraction, 2 percent, of that plastic packaging is effectively recycled. By 2050 there will be 12 billion tons of waste plastic in landfills and the environment. When plastics enter our environment, they break up into smaller and smaller pieces, termed microplastics. Studies show microplastics are now in our tap water, bottled water, foods, human feces, and can cross the membrane systems of our bodies. The incineration of plastic is not a practical solution as this creates deadly compounds like dioxins and furans.
Scientific studies tell us that plastics leach out toxic plasticizers. One such group of plasticizers are phthalates. Health studies show that pre-natal exposures to these compounds disrupt “the levels of thyroid and sex hormones in pregnant women and offspring, resulting in preterm birth, preeclampsia, infant hypospadias, shorter anogenital distance in newborns as well as growth restrictions in infants and early childhood.”
Additionally, the compound used to make take-out foam containers, styrene, has been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a human carcinogen.
EPA studies show that this compound has become so ubiquitous in our environment that it was present in “100 percent of human fat samples collected from the 48 continental states.”
It can act as an estrogen in the body and interferes with hormone functions as well as contributes to breast and prostate cancers.
Why would our politicians try to hamper local communities from slowing down the enormous amounts of toxic single-use plastics in our communities? Consider that 99 percent of all plastics start their lives as fossil fuels. Plastics are one way to keep the surrounding region connected to a dying industry. Science tells us that from cradle to grave, plastics production plays a major role in climate change. By 2050, plastic may account for 20% of the world’s total oil consumption.
We marvel at the recent successful landing of the Perseverance on Mars. We depend on scientists to formulate vaccines for COVID-19. Yet, when it comes to using science-based knowledge to enact meaningful decision-making that protects human health and the environment, once again politicians side with industry, and ignore science and the welfare of their constituents.
Randi Jeannine Pokladnik