by Ed Weisberg
On Earth day this year, GXT Green was invited to testify at a hearing at the Massachusetts State House to review two bills calling for a statewide ban of plastic bags. We were honored to be asked to present information on the ECOgrade bag solution to plastic bag pollution. The hearing was chaired by the distinguished group of state senators and representatives who are members of the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture.
At GXT Green, we recognize that we need to devote effort to educating people about the innovative ECOgrade solution. Even though ECOgrade won recognition as Consumer Product of the Year from MassTLC, and is a finalist for the upcoming Innovation of the Year Award from SBANE, many people assume that it has the same characteristics as older generations of bio-degradable and oxo-degradable bags. One of our prime challenges is to get the attention of bag buyers, environmentalists, and legislators to inform them of the facts, supported by third party certifications. The good news is that once they listen, they understand why ECOgrade is unlike products they have seen in the past, and is a true solution to the challenges of plastic bag pollution.
There were many impassioned speakers who provided testimony to the committee, including other Senators and Representatives, as well as members of the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations. While we admire their initiatives to eliminate plastic bag litter, there remained a fundamental issue that seems to occur in many cases with environmental causes. It’s relatively easy to identify problems such as the blight on our landscape from littered plastic bags. However, too often, overzealous members of the public, in their rush to do good, focus on the problem rather than a solution. The result is the eventual failure of their initiatives. Bans are not a viable solution to the plastic bag issue. People still need to get their groceries home! We just saw a reaction to a ban in Toronto, where their bag ban was overturned since it could not be enforced, and placed too much of a burden on the community and retailers.
GXT Green’s comments in the State House session were focused on educating the group on the unique characteristics and the value of ECOgrade bags, and the need for a solution, rather than just a ban. We also entered a request to ensure that products like ours, which are certified as photodegradable according to ASTM 5272 standards, and result in non-toxic residue, are recognized as an alternative in any legislation that is developed.
It was interesting to note the miss-information that, unfortunately, was apparent in some of the speakers’ comments, despite our clear explanations. Fortunately, we have been able to clarify these issues, including correcting the misconception from a major environmental organization that thought that ECOgrade degrades into microplastic particles. When we have had the chance to talk with them individually they acknowledged that this was based on an inaccurate assumption. People are beginning to understand that we have a solution, with a goal of solving this blight on our environment. We look forward to continuing to do our part to eliminate plastic waste from our waters and our planet.
Edward Weisberg is Senior Vice President of Marketing and Business Development, GXT Green