Santa Cruz Good Times

Friday
Apr 18th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

The Plastic Debate Take Two

 

plasticdebate2Part two in a four part series looking at the discourse surrounding plastic bag bans

When we truly sit down and think about everything in our lives that is plastic, we might begin to realize our love affair with synthetic materials is not a simple one. Look around you right now: Can you live without your plastic computers, cell phones, toilet seats, bags, pacemakers, sneakers, toothbrush, coffeemaker, iPods, or chewing gum (yes, gum)?

Society of the Plastic Industry (SPI) and American Chemistry Council (ACC) are two of the biggest names in the fight for plastic bags in the single-use plastic bag debate. The ACC has threatened to sue cities and counties that ban plastic bags. Plastic is ACC’s main product and it appears in large letters towards the top of their website. Throughout all of the ACC’s arguments against banning single-use plastic bags, they promote the idea of responsible use, reuse, recycling and disposal of plastic bags. Through this discourse they construct a rhetorical argument that highlights recycling as a positive disposal method in our communities.

The ACC makes it clear on their website and through their counter-arguments that their organization recognizes that more can be done to address environmental concerns. “We work to create solutions to reduce the number of plastic bags that end up in our landfills and, sometimes, as litter,” it reads. Even the visual elements on their website represent the “recycle” theme. There is a large advertisement for recycling on the right hand side of the site when you read the section called “About Plastics.” The advertisement highlights recycling by using images of items found in plastic bags and the colors green and blue, which are universally recognized to connect with nature and recycling. This further enforces the ACC’s rhetorical strategy to push the notion of recycling and sustainability when discussing the consumers’ need for plastic bags.  

The ACC’s key arguments in the plastic bag debate include: plastic’s connection to innovation and sustainability; plastic bags being light weight, which helps reduce energy, waste, and green house gas emissions; and that plastics make modern life possible. The ACC’s tactics revolve around enabling modern life, convenience, and sustainability, all of which appeal to American ideals.

SPI, “The Plastic Industry Trade Association,” represents the third largest manufacturing industry in the United States. The SPI outlines their main arguments as the following: “better for the environment, better for recycling, and better for reuse.” Unlike the ACC, the SPI uses their discourse to reinforce the idea of plastic being “better” than any other alternative material for bags.

SPI uses facts and statistics to construct scientific ethos as a means of building credibility for their presentation in the rest of their main points used in the debate. For example, in their persuasive tactics to support why plastic is “better for recycling” SPI explains, “There is a growing market for recycled plastic that didn’t exist 15 years ago. Today’s recyclers make $.15 - $.20 per pound on collected bags. It’s also cheaper now to use recycled plastic than to obtain new materials, increasing potential for more recycling and for more use of recycled bags. Bags can be recycled into plastic lumber, planters for gardening, new plastic bags, and other products.” Here SPI highlights the concerns regarding cost, while also pushing our need to recycle. Especially in economic times like we are facing today, Americans value the cost of products and services.

The plastic bag industry doesn’t think we need to cut back on plastic. It’s their livelihood, and they’ve grounded their rhetorical arguments in using terms such as ”sustainability,” “recycle,” “reuse,” and connecting the idea of plastic to the greater good of modern life. Plastic corporations want to convince the public that recycling is the best approach to the plastic-versus-paper argument and that a ban on single-use plastics is not necessary.

In the next blog I will examine the rhetorical strategies used by environmental groups as they push back at plastic corporations in the debate over single-use plastic bags.


Jamie Foster is a second year graduate student in communication studies at San Francisco State University, where she is currently studying the discourse used within the plastic bag debate and how each side—plastic corporations and environmental groups—construct their arguments. Good Times will be host to four blogs by Jamie about this subject. If you would like to see a complete version of her paper or have any questions please email her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Cardinal Grand Cross in the Sky

Following Holy Week (passion, death and burial of the Pisces World Teacher) and Easter Sunday (Resurrection Festival), from April 19 to the 23, the long-awaited and discussed Cardinal Cross of Change appears in the sky, composed of Cardinal signs Aries, Libra, Cancer, and Capricorn, with planets (13-14 degrees) Uranus (in Aries), Jupiter (in Cancer), Mars (in Libra) and Pluto (in Capricorn), an actual geometrical square or cross configuration. Cardinal signs mark the seasons of change, initiating new realities.

 

Sugar: The New Tobacco?

Proposed bill would require warning labels on sugary drinks Will soda and other saccharine libations soon come with a health warning? They will if it’s up to our state senator, Bill Monning (D-Carmel). On Feb. 27, Monning proposed first-of-its-kind legislation that would require a consumer warning label be placed on sugar-sweetened beverages sold in California. SB 1000, also known as the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act, was proposed to provide vital information to consumers about the harmful effects of consuming sugary drinks, such as sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened teas.

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of April 17

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >

 

Growing Hope

Campos Seguros combats sexual assault in the Watsonville farmworker community Farm work was a way of life for Rocio Camargo, who grew up in Watsonville as the daughter of Mexican immigrants. Her parents met while working the fields 30 years ago, and her father went on to run Fuentes Berry Farms.
Sign up for Tomorrow's Good Times Today
Upcoming arts & events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Foodie File: Red Apple Cafe

Breakfast takes center stage at Gracia Krakauer's Red Apple Cafe Before they moved to Aptos, Gracia and her husband Dan Krakauer would visit friends in Santa Cruz County and eat at the Red Apple Café all the time. Then they moved up here from Santa Monica five years ago, and bought the Aptos location (there’s a separate one in Watsonville) from the family who owned it for two decades.

 

How would you feel about a tech industry boom in Santa Cruz?

I feel like it would ruin the small old-town feeling of Santa Cruz. It wouldn’t be the same Surf City kind of vacation town that it is. Antoinette BennettSanta Cruz | Construction Management

 

Trout Gulch Vineyards

Cinsault 2012—la grande plage diurne The most popular wines on store shelves are those most generally known and available—Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which are all superb for sure. But when you come across a more unusual varietal, like Trout Gulch Vineyards’ Cinsault ($18), it opens up a whole new world.

 

Waddell Creek, Al Fresco

Route One Summer Farm Dinner You’ve been buying their insanely fresh produce for years now at farmers’ markets. Right? So now why not become more familiar with the gorgeous Waddell Creek farmlands of Route One Farms?