June 2019: New Report from Greenpeace: Packaging Away the Planet
“Incredibly, six times more plastic waste is burned in the U.S. than is recycled,56 and globally, of all the plastic ever produced, more has been burned than recycled.57Burning plastic is known to release carcinogenic pollutants, which lead to a wide array of debilitating human health impacts.”
ZERO WASTE GAINESVILLE PROJECT
In October 2017, encouraged by Zero Waste Gainesville, City Commissioner Adrian Hayes-Santos recommended the City of Gainesville move toward Zero Waste by the year 2040. Since then, a series of meetings have been held to talk about how we can accomplish this. The community seems quite energized by this topic, with many local restaurant owners & managers, environmentalists, and members of the general public coming together to exchange ideas how we can quickly reduce plastic and styrofoam waste.
The SSJ Sierra Club supports and will continue to work with Zero Waste Gainesville and the City/County cooperative effort by advocating for good public policy and educating the public on the environmental effects of plastics.
Here are some links you might find interesting:
December 13, 2017
Mayor and City Commissioners
City of Gainesville
200 E. University Ave.
Gainesville, FL 32601
Re: Single-Use Plastic Bag and Styrofoam Bans
Dear Mayor Poe and City Commissioners,
We, the undersigned organizations, write in full support of banning the distribution of single-use plastic bags and Styrofoam in the City of Gainesville. The benefits from approving the two ordinances are far-reaching and will positively impact human health, the environment and the economy.
Recent research has shown that both plastic bags and Styrofoam have the potential to impact human health. Styrofoam is made with styrene, which the Department of Health and Human Services has listed as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen”. Styrofoam breaks down easily in the environment but never biodegrades and has been found to store toxins over time. Animals ingest these particles and the toxins accumulate in the food chain including the food that we eat, increasing the risk of humans consuming unsafe substances. Plastic bags have also been shown to cause negative impacts to our health. Harmful chemicals leach out of plastic and are found in the blood and tissue of nearly all of us. Exposure to them is linked to cancers, birth defects, impaired immunity, endocrine disruption and other ailments.
In addition to human health, it has been well documented that both plastic bags and Styrofoam negatively impact the environment. Both have been found in the most remote places in the world and are building up in our rivers, streams and oceans. Wildlife becomes entangled in bags, they mistake foam or plastic for food and eat it or feed it to their young. Most marine-based debris comes from land based litter, so the impact of banning these items will not only be felt in our City but across the State of Florida and beyond.
The economy suffers when we continue to use single-use plastic bags and Styrofoam. We are paying to ship more trash to the landfill by using items once and then discarding them. There is also the cost associated with litter clean-up as both items are commonly found along our streets and in our environment. In addition, we all benefit economically from Florida being a tourist destination, and by keeping our State clean people will continue to visit us for years to come.
Finally, we believe that local communities should make decisions that are good for them. We want Gainesville to stand strong with Coral Cables and encourage other local communities to take a stand. Luckily, there are cities across the country and world that have passed single-use plastic bag and Styrofoam bans and show it can be done. Consumer behavior has changed, positive impacts have followed, and the bans have been a success.
Thank you for your leadership on this issue.