Why We Don’t Worry About Plastic Bags
Lisa was a landfill design engineer. She did field work, and had morning sickness with our oldest when she drove into the Norridgewock landfill site and had to drive past the existing pile of trash to get to the new cells they were constructing with a re-compacted clay liner and a plastic liner. No one hates municipal solid waste more any more than we do. But we also know about the waste system here in southern Maine, and around here we think biodegradable bags are kind of a gimmick. All the waste in our area goes to the incinerator in Portland and is burned to make electricity. The plastic grocery bags have a relatively complete combustion with very little residue (ash) to landfill. If there isn’t enough electricity made in Portland, they will run Wyman Station on Cousins Island more than they do now, and burn oil, which also has some ash residue when it burns, so there’s no reduction in residual waste. Basically, we all get to use the plastic bags (oil) to keep our vegetables fresh before they get turned into electricity. I wish we all used less electricity, but we’ll always use some. I wish everything came from renewables, but it doesn’t. For right now, plastic bags aren’t a terrible thing. Biodegradable ones aren’t bad either, but there are issues with trying to compost things like that in the winter, like getting enough heavier scraps on top of them so they won’t blow all over the yard (and the neighbor’s yard), and the cost. As they say on Channel 6, that’s our opinion, we welcome yours….