A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Here’s something to ban: Hard plastic wraps

Written August 21st, 2019 by Hasso Hering

It takes a pocket knife to pierce and cut the stiff plastic armor surrounding items like this.

Only four months to go before our overseers in the state legislature will make people in Albany and the rest of Oregon give up the convenience of free shopping bags of thin plastic. But another kind of plastic — much thicker and sharp, and capable of slicing your skin if you’re not careful — remains free to be used.

By now everybody is probably reconciled to the loss of free shopping bags at the supermarket and any other store. Portland, Corvallis and a few other towns banned them years ago. This year the legislature passed House Bill 2509, which prohibits single-use shopping bags statewide starting Jan. 1 and threatens any store that hands one out with a potential $250 fine. The law graciously allows merchants to provide reusable bags, but only if they charge 5 cents apiece.

The idea is to cut down on plastic pollution, which by itself is a worthwhile cause. Well then, how about banning all those plastic bubbles and similar packaging, the kind that ends up in landfills (if we’re lucky) and probably lasts there for hundreds of years.

The material feels like it lasts that long because of how tough it is and how hard it is to open the wrappings made from it. You can’t just tear them apart. You have to attack them with a blade. And watch out when you do. You want to avoid the plastic edges; they’re as sharp as whatever it is you cut them with.

Manufacturers put their stuff in those packages for a reason, no doubt, maybe so they withstand the long trip from China. And consumers buy their stuff beccause they have no other choice. So this is an area where Oregon lawmakers could help us out instead of complicating our life. If that kind of packaging was banned, the makers of consumer goods would find some other way to wrap them. Better yet, maybe they could do without packaging at all and save everybody money and time.

Just why does a solid item like a smoke detector, for example, need a hard, plastic, transparent wrap that takes a major operation to get through? (hh)


8 responses to “Here’s something to ban: Hard plastic wraps”

  1. mike says:

    I get it, the packaging of products should use as little non-recyclable and or reusable plastics as possible. Hey, even offer them a temporary incentive to knock it off to ramp up the necessary changes in manufacturing and packaging.

    The bags? I’m assuming the law defines what “single use” means.. but by my look, often these bags are also used as trash bags for mini garbage cans in bathrooms, or reused to hold other goods later. If you’ve ever run across an ancient collection of these bags, often they are already disintegrating and are useless after 10+ years in storage. (whether or not those flakes of an old plastic bag are bad for the environment.. I dont know, just they seem to have a short lifespan)

    Just like the whole straw ban craze – let’s be sensible about the environment and landfill usage. Target the industries and items that make sense and have the biggest impact first. While I hate, for instance, paper clamshell to-go containers I’d rather have them decompose easily than a styrofoam blob that takes centuries to change form.

    While we’re on the subject I’m glad that China stopped accepting our waste. The pollution output of the ships just taking the materials to them were enormous, and this will ultimately force us to progress and develop better recycling methods, equipment, and more recyclable but user friendly products.

  2. J. Jacobson says:

    If President Trump had followed through on his promise to MAGA, and to bring manufacturing back to America, perhaps this heavy duty plastic, which seems to stymie the author, would not be as necessary. Unfortunately, the leadership in Washington DC is easily distracted, just like our local POLS who seem to think saving rotting buildings is more important than citizens having a decent home and decent schools and decent roads. Perhaps Albany could purchase Greenland as a hedge against future shortfalls. Once the deal’s done, we could shrink wrap the island to preserve it for the future.

    • hj.anony1 says:

      LOL…45s promises….LOL indeed. Lying con man & grifter.

      Good on you HH, for installing a new smoke detector. Even if it took you half an hour to cut through that darn, tough plastic.

  3. J Stuart says:

    I am of the opinion that we should find a way to deal with our own waste/recycling and not ship it across the ocean for someone else to deal with. If we have to process it here and pay US wages to get it done, that will inform our practices all along the way from production to consumption to reuse, recycling and landfill. However, it does seem to need a nudge from government. The market has not been able to solve this problem on its own.

  4. Carolyn Nunn says:

    This will be a loss of jobs overall. If this has to happen, require those cutsie little bags that are ok be made in the U.S. so stupid

  5. John Allen says:

    Hasso, you forgot 2 reasons merchants like this packaging. First, it deters shoplifting. Merchandise in a cardboard box can be opened and concealed easily. Second, the product is more visible to potential purchasers.

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      Correct! And since the “hard plastic” has been used for years, I’ll suggest that if you’re trying to use a tool to open them (such as shown in the picture), you’re really begging to have your fingers damaged! A basic pair of kitchen-scissors (shears if you will) always makes mince-meat of those hard plastic containers with minimal problems…

  6. Lundy says:

    Whatever the geopolitics of it all, I’m with you Hasso — I hate that type of packaging.


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