Fixing the plastic pandemic and more

Letters to the editor September 23 to 29

Posted 9/21/21

Fixing the plastics pandemic

Picture a credit card. That’s how much plastic each of us ingests every week.

Plastic doesn’t break down, but it does break. Tiny particles linger in …

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Fixing the plastic pandemic and more

Letters to the editor September 23 to 29

Posted

Fixing the plastics pandemic

Picture a credit card. That’s how much plastic each of us ingests every week.

Plastic doesn’t break down, but it does break. Tiny particles linger in the environment, contaminating the food we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe.

What’s the solution? While only nine percent of plastic in the U.S. is recycled, improved rates would be no silver bullet. Most plastic degrades when it’s recycled and can be made into a new product only once or twice.

Many types of plastic cannot be recycled at all. Or they’re effectively unrecyclable, because they can’t compete with cheap virgin plastic made from abundant and inexpensive natural gas.

As climate change drives down demand for fossil fuels, Big Oil is investing heavily in plastics production—mostly to make single-use packaging. Nationwide, nearly 350 new or expanded plastic plants are in the works, including a 386-acre Shell facility near Pittsburgh slated to open next year. The company hopes it will anchor a petrochemical corridor in Appalachia.

Meanwhile, half of all plastic manufactured becomes trash in less than a year.

This has got to stop. Plastic causes serious environmental problems and emits greenhouse gases at every stage of its life cycle, from extraction to waste.

The Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act would, among other things, save local and municipal governments billions of dollars by shifting the cost of waste management to producers. It also seeks a moratorium on new or expanded plastic production facilities and related infrastructure projects until the EPA develops regulations to protect affected communities.

It’s high time we took a more thoughtful approach to plastics. I’m proud that my congressman, Rep. Antonio Delgado, has cosponsored this potentially game-changing bill. PA readers, please contact Rep. Matt Cartwright and urge him to do likewise.

Rebekah Creshkoff

Callicoon, NY

The individual worker has a right to choose representation

The River Reporter’s editorial remembering Frances Perkins and article “Bitter fruit” (September 2-8), focusing on the Protect the Right to Organize Act, were of interest because of the short shrift afforded labor topics by the mass media.

For the purposes of organizing, PRO Act supporters might consider amending it to join the enemy [Taft-Hartley], so to speak (since the chances of repealing Taft-Hartley and right-to-work law in more the half the states seems unlikely). The Wagner Act appeared to extend a collective right to labor, allowing a majority of workers to decide what entity would bargain for all. The Taft-Hartley Act amended labor law to make clear that the right was individual, allowing even a single worker not to be part of the collective bargaining unit despite agreement by all the others (also empowering states to pass additional laws).

If a worker can assert a right negatively, equal protection would seem to compel acceptance of another worker’s positive expression of that right. So, the Wagner Act (NLRA) should be amended, in instances where no union achieves a majority, to allow workers, even a minority,  to be granted their choice of representation (while allowing the others to be unrepresented in compliance with Taft-Hartley).

John A. MacKinnon

Lackawaxen, PA

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