The Honorable Edward Butler, Chair
House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee
Legislative Office Building, Room 302
Concord, NH 03301
Re: HB 558 An act restricting the distribution of plastic straws
HB 560 An act relative to single-use carryout bags
Dear Chair Butler and Members of the Committee:
Connecticut River Conservancy appreciates the opportunity to comment on House Bills 558 and 560 which restrict the distribution of plastic straws and single-use carry out bags state-wide. Connecticut River Conservancy (CRC) supports both of these bills.
CRC and our members have been working to protect the Connecticut River and its tributaries from the source at the Canadian border to the sea for the past 65 years. For 23 of those years, we have organized the largest river cleanup on the east coast. Each year CRC volunteers go out at the end of September to get trash out of our waterways and over and over again, plastic is the item most frequently found. Our annual event gives us proof every year that plastic pollution is everywhere in our environment. In 2018 alone our volunteers picked up 48 tons of trash. We’ve cleaned up over 1,000 tons of garbage since this annual event began, including a great deal of single-use plastics.
Overwrap packaging, drinking straws, grocery bags, polystyrene food packaging – these single-use plastics, often with an average lifespan of minutes, become pollution that fester in our waterways, landfills, and environment for up to 1,000 years. We now understand that they break up into microplastics which build up in the food chain after larger predators consume smaller marine life. These tiny pieces of plastic are finding their way into our bodies. Additives in plastics have been associated with human and aquatic species health risks. Plastics have a high sorption capacity and may accumulate persistent organic pollutants like pesticides, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
Towns all over New England are banning single-use plastic bags and citizens are transitioning easily to functioning without them. As an example, the town of Brattleboro, VT passed a ban in 2017 that went into effect in July of 2018.[i] There has been no controversy resulting from this ban. The local business community is on board and the transition was a non-issue for the townspeople. The local grocery stores have provided paper bags for a modest fee of 10 cents and encourage the use of and sell reusable bags.
The plastics manufacturing companies are trying to scare our communities into thinking that we somehow “need” the wasteful convenience of single-use plastics. This is bunk. Anyone over 45 can remember the time when these single-use plastics did not exist and we brought our groceries home in paper bags. Part of the ethos of our New England history is built on our thrifty nature of reducing waste and reusing wisely the resources that we already have. I’m not sure when or why it became fashionable to live in a throw-away society, but the arrogance of that wasteful attitude flies in the face of our longstanding thrifty values. If reusable canvas and paper bags were good enough for my parents, grandparents and great-grandparents, they are good enough for me!
Please support HB 558 and 560.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment.
Cc: Rep. Spang; Rep. Balch; Rep. Luneau; Rep. Myler; Sen. Fuller Clark; Sen. Watters
[i] See: https://vtdigger.org/2018/07/04/brattleboro-adapts-to-plastic-bag-ordinance/ and https://www.reformer.com/stories/bag-ban-smooth-and-successful,552805