The Plastics Industry is really just concerned about our health. Honest.

Shame on the Canadian Plastics Industry Association. I’ve had a real beef with it for the past year or so, ever since it and its spokesperson, Cathy Cirko, have been on the offense whenever it appeared that they, plastic water bottles, and plastic shopping bags were in danger of extinction. They’ve issued press releases and statements claiming that plastic water bottles are necessary and hygienic and convenient, as are plastic shopping bags.

But wait. While we may think that they’ve been at war with environmentalists and concerned citizens in an effort to keep alive their profits, it appears now that they’re just really nice people who are genuinely worried about our health. A news story late last week stated that the CPIA had sponsored its own study and analysis of “25 randomly selected” reuseable shopping bags, and had found that there was a high level of bacteria and mould found in 30% to 40% of these bags. They want to warn the public about the use of these bags, and in an interview with CBC radio in Toronto, Ms. Cirko wanted us to know that plastic shopping bags, on the other hand, would not harbour these bacteria because plastic bags are used mainly as “kitchen catchers”, and are not reuseable or multi-purpose.

Of interest was the fact that she stubbornly refused to use the words “disposable” and “garbage bags that end up in landfills”, and she hemmed and hawed when a CBC-radio interviewer asked her how she would react if told that there is evidence that people try to get as much use out of them as possible, i.e., as lunch bags and gym bags. Even more annoying were Ms. Cirko’s refusal to answer how scientific (the interviewer asked about the small study sample, and Ms. Cirko skirted the question) and unbiased her study could be, as well as her determined run-around on the question, “Wouldn’t washing the reuseable bags in hot water solve the problem?” Oh, er, ah, that might help, she admitted almost unwillingly, but it wouldn’t completely solve the problem, and besides, the point of the study, she quickly went on, was that the CPIA just wanted to be a good Samaritan and raise public awareness of a potential health issue. [Note: I washed cloth diapers over a period of almost five years, and trust me, there are worse things in diapers than in reuseable shopping bags, so you’ll pardon me if I seem a bit leery of Ms. Cirko when she states that a little hot water and soap won’t completely solve the problem.]

So thank you, CPIA, for all your work and concern. I take back what I said earlier in this post about having a beef with you, when all it is that you’re concerned about is our welfare. But fear-mongering and revealing only half-truths in the interest of self-preservation? No! Not you.

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