Plastics Industry Claims Reusable Bags Are Health Hazards

By: - March 26, 2020

The plastic bag industry is pushing against laws that ban stores from providing single-use bags in favor of reusable ones, arguing that reusable shopping bags spread germs and could worsen the coronavirus outbreak.

The group Bag the Ban says on its website that “If reusable bags aren’t sanitized properly after each use, they can harbor dangerous viruses and bacteria. Microbiologists have found E. coli, salmonella, fecal coliform, and other harmful bacteria in reusable bags.”

“It’s coming through pretty hot and heavy,” Matt Seaholm, executive director of the American Recyclable Plastic Bag Alliance in Washington, which oversees Bag the Ban, told The New York Times. “This brings to attention one of those unintended consequences that we have cited for years as a concern.”

The Plastic Industry Association made a similar argument in a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services asking it to declare a ban on single-use plastics, as they are a health hazard during a pandemic.

“We ask that the department speak out against bans on these products as a public safety risk,” they wrote, according to the Times, adding that the department should “help stop the rush to ban these products by environmentalists and elected officials that puts consumers and workers at risk.”

These groups often cite a study conducted by researchers at the University of Arizona and Loma Linda University, which was funded by a group that represents various plastics and chemicals manufacturers, and recommends that people with reusable bags clean them regularly, not rely on single-use bags instead.

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