American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA)

AF&PA urges “no” vote on new bag tax

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Today the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) urged Seattle City Council members to oppose the new tax on consumers that is proposed in Council Bill 116251, which would levy a tax on paper bags.

Paper is the most recycled material on the planet and the Seattle area has some of the nation’s most progressive recycling programs, with residents having almost universal access to either curbside or drop-off recycling. In fact, fully 85 percent of the entire State of Washington’s population has access to curbside or drop-off recycling. In light of this, the bill’s proposed tax is unlikely to increase recycling and instead will simply raise costs for consumers.

“We applaud the council for its focus on sustainability. Our industry has successfully led the drive for more recycling programs nationwide and we look forward to working with council members to increase recycling rates in Seattle,” said American Forest & Paper Association President and CEO Donna Harman. “This particular bill is a counterproductive strategy and we hope that members will turn away from what will essentially wind up being a tax on consumers with no environmental benefit.”

Paper bags are the preferred packaging choice for environmentally-conscious consumers given that they are recyclable, are made of natural fibers from renewable resources, and are biodegradable—unlike other packaging options manufactured from hydrocarbons. This biodegradability is why local government-sponsored leaf collection programs throughout the country rely on paper bags to deliver leaves to composting sites – leaves that would otherwise be destined for landfills.

Recycling paper has become almost second nature for millions of Americans, and more paper is recovered for recycling than any other material. This habit has been fostered by strong educational efforts of AF&PA’s members who have set a goal of recovering 60 percent of all paper consumed in the U.S. by 2012. Americans have responded strongly to this campaign by recycling 54.3 percent in 2007 – more than 360 pounds for every man, woman, and child in America. And every ton of recycled paper saves 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space, further reducing carbon emissions into our atmosphere.

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