From tiny bags come big problems

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 9, 2008

Those relatively tiny plastic bags used to carry groceries have become a big headache.

Farmers in Isle of Wight have complained how the bags wind up in cotton bales and eventually become part of the cotton, reducing the price they get for their yields.

Residents complain how the bags blow around in the wind and create a littering problem.

At least one group, the Virginia Plastic Bag Advisory Group which met in Smithfield this week, is pushing for ways to reduce the negative impact of those bags.

It is a goal worthy of support.

Unfortunately, there is no simple answer. Plastic is cheaper than paper, which means big business is more willing to supply plastic.

If nothing else, the group, which drew state legislators as well as regional economic advisers to the meeting, is raising awareness of the issue.

State Sen. Fred Quayle (R-13th) told the group two studies are being conducted — one by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission and the second by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

During this year’s General Assembly session, bills requesting localities be allowed to ban plastic bag usage failed.

Still, there is support to take other measures. Quayle said he thought the more people talked about the issue could help provide a solution.

Talking about finding a solution is a good start.