Once again, another progressive politician has proposed a policy that might sound good on the surface but will probably do more harm than good. Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey has put forth an idea to protect the environment by doing away with single-use plastic bottles.
The governor argues that this move will do wonders for reducing damage to the environment and promoting sustainable practices. However, this solution might not be all that it seems.
Massachusetts state agencies will be banned from purchasing single-use plastic bottles, Gov. Maura Healey announced Monday, a step her administration said was nation-leading and will target one of the leading threats to our oceans, climate, and environmental justice.
The announcement came in her keynote address at the Clinton Global Initiative during New York’s Climate Week, a day after tens of thousands of people marched through Manhattan calling for world leaders to hasten the transition from the fossil fuels that are warming the planet.
“In government, we have an obligation to stop contributing to this damage and chart a better path forward,” Healey said. “So we are proud to become the first state to adopt a procurement ban on single-use plastic bottles.”
Healey will issue executive orders on Thursday that will not only ban single-use plastic bottles but will also direct state agencies to set conservation goals for the next three decades.
So far, only local governments have taken a similar step. Concord, MA, along with other cities, has banned the use of these bottles.
During her speech, Gov. Healey insisted that “climate change is our biggest threat” and that “taking action is our greatest opportunity – to secure a safe, prosperous, and sustainable future.”
There are a few issues with this proposition. For starters, using alternative materials isn’t necessarily better for the environment. Using different types of materials also poses challenges to sustainability. For instance, glass bottles are heavier, which means they require more energy to transport them, thereby increasing their carbon footprint. Moreover, they also require more energy to manufacture. The same is true for producing aluminum cans.
Also, if more states emulated Massachusetts, it could disrupt the plastic bottle production industry. This would threaten jobs and economic growth in these markets. Also, it could pose a problem in the event of a serious disaster. Single-use plastic bottles provide an easier way for people to access water when other options are not available.
It is also worth noting that recycling is still a thing. Plastic is not the problem – the way it is managed is the issue. The state might do better to implement a robust recycling program so it can make sure it is maximizing its effort to reduce emissions. These products can be used to manufacture other products like clothing, furniture, and others, which would probably do more to protect the environment than banning them altogether.
Healey’s proposition is another feel-good policy that makes it look as if the state government is doing something to solve a problem when it is really not. Indeed, this “solution” might bring with it more problems than it is worth.