Lobbyists Write Plastic Bags into Textbooks

California schoolchildren will be able to read all about plastic bags' contribution to society in their school text books. Who's to thank for such a development? Why, the American Chemistry Council, of course.

The lobbying group put pressure on California educators to include positive information on plastic bags -- such as that they take less energy to produce than paper bags and are much lighter -- at the same time it was fighting San Francisco's ban on plastic bags, according to California Watch.

The section "The Advantages of Plastic Shopping Bags" was added in 2009 to high school juniors' text. The information is "almost verbatim" identical to letters written by the chemistry council, which lobbies for bags as well as other plastics.

Gone unmentioned are the facts that plastic bags take 1,000 years to decompose in a landfill while leaching toxic chemicals into groundwater and oceans, which are, in case nobody noticed, currently full of plastics.

Bags are big money for Americans, who use an estimate 100 billion plastic shopping bags every year, nearly all of which are thrown into the garbage. Grocery stores and retailers spend some $4 billion annually on bags.

The plastic textbooks are being tested out at selected school districts throughout the state, including ones in Napa, Union City and Guerneville. The plastic lobby declined to comment on its educational efforts, but bag foes weren't so quiet.

"Parents should be outraged that their kids are going to be potentially taught bogus facts written by a plastic-industry consultant suggesting advantages of plastic bags," said Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste, a recycling and environmental lobbying group, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

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