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Plastic bags are 100 percent recyclable, and they provide jobs in Idaho

Mike Schutz

At a time in American history when many hard working men and woman in our nation are being negatively impacted by a lack of manufacturing jobs, I take great pride in going to work every day in Jerome for Hilex Poly, an American company that produces a 100 percent recyclable product.

I know my 125 co-workers feel the same way as I do, which is why we’re so concerned that voters in the City of Hailey will decide on November 8 whether the product we make, recyclable plastic bags, will be banned from grocery stores and other retail establishments.

I’m confident the students in Hailey who worked to put the proposed ban on the ballot did so because they think it’s the right thing to do. I applaud them getting involved in the political process. As with most public policy issues, there are important facts that voters need to know before they cast their ballots. In addition to potentially costing Idaho jobs, bans like the one Hailey is considering have unintended negative environmental consequences.

If plastic bags are banned, retailers in Hailey would almost assuredly switch to exclusively providing paper bags for customers who don’t bring their own bag. This is important because, according to ABC News, plastic bags generate 80 percent less waste than paper bags. Moreover, a standard paper bag must be reused three times to ensure it has a lower global warming potential than one use of a plastic bag, according to the U.K. Environmental Agency. Finally, according to the Retail Association of Nevada, for every seven trucks needed to deliver paper bags, only one truck is needed to deliver the same number of plastic bags.

I’d like to believe that with a closer examination of the facts that voters in Hailey will decide they do not want to inadvertently eliminate Idaho jobs, negatively impact global warming and put more trucks on the roads – all without decreasing litter.

There is a better way: recycling.

The Hilex Poly plant in Jerome produces 100 percent recyclable bags that are used in the Hailey area. More importantly, we have a recycling partnership with Atkinsons’ Market in Hailey whereby a Hilex Poly employee, Jeanette Medlin, regularly drives to Hailey and picks up plastic bags that she then brings back to Jerome to be completely recycled onsite.

The bottom line is that when it comes to banning plastic bags, recycling is a better solution for Idaho’s economy and the environment.

About Mike Schutz


  1. I’m sure Mike is a nice man, but I’m also sure he didn’t write his nifty little letter all by himself. Ive worked for quite some number of plant managers over the years, and I dont recal any of them that could write a simple thank you letter, lit alone something like this. So “Mike” I’m sure you mean well and probably believe all this–and maybe there’s some truth to it but its really just big business doing what it does. Protecting big business. Maybe I’m ok with that–I worked lots of years for them, and that was good, and folks need to have jobs. I’m sure the schoolgirl means well to though, so maybe the two should work together. If Mikes so proud of his recycleable bags, maybe he and the girl and her friends should set up a good program in Haily and around to stop all the littering. maybe the rich folks up there can help with this. And get the problem solved and keep Mike in business. Things arent always so black and white.

  2. Sharie has it right. People today are taking the planet for granted. Maybe we need the crying indian back on TV like when I was a girl. I’m sure the Hailey girl means well, but I don’t think we really need high school students telling us what to do. They don’t know a darn thing about life in this world. And sure they don’t know about putting food on the table (and in those bad bags) so they and other kids have food to eat. Keep making bags. Keep folks working. Let’s get the well meening high schoolers to go about and pick up trash and such–and raise awareness.

  3. Sharie is exactly on point. Stop coddlying people and educate them. If your kids burn themselves on a stove, do you get rid of the stove? No, you teach them not to touch it.

  4. Neither of these marketplace and counterpoint solutions, recycling or banning of plastic bags, actually gets to the root of the “waving in the trees, fences or floating in the water forever” problem: personal responsibility. The real problem is inconsiderate and self-absorbed people who don’t take responsibility to put a used bag (paper or plastic) in a proper receptacle when done. Obviously, a recycling bin is the preferred choice, but mostly the user needs to take responsibility for its proper disposal. I applaud the students’ passion and concern for their environment and willingness to step up, but their efforts would be better served by educating their fellow citizens about taking personal responsibility for keeping their community litter-free. Plastics manufacturers and recycling companies are not the bad guys – indifferent and irresponsible citizens are.

  5. There are many recyclable options. Unfortunately our earth is trashed with poly bags that didn’t make it to the recycle bin. I’m sure you’ve seen them waving in the trees, fences or floating in the water. Forever.
    It’s not about jobs today. It’s about being a good steward of the land. Retool the factory.