To the Editor:

Earlier this month, I read an opinion piece in support of legislation that would overhaul the use of plastic packaging that consumers rely on every day and substantially drive up prices for families when they can least afford it (“To reduce plastic waste, make producers responsible for it ,” Sept. 1, 2022). The Extended Producer Responsibility Act introduced in the Assembly earlier this year completely dismisses factors that are important to so many families — cost and necessity.

Let’s make one thing clear: We all want clean air, clean water and protected natural resources. On that point, there is no debate. But a government mandate to prohibit the use of plastic fails to recognize its benefits to consumers and the environment.

In fact, you won’t hear it from activists, but the manufacturing, use and recycling of plastic requires less energy and generates less waste than the most common alternatives. As families have come to appreciate over generations, it’s simply lighter and far more durable than other products and is essential in everyday life.

Without question, New Yorkers have made tremendous sacrifices to protect the environment and provide for their families. Things are moving in the right direction. The last thing we can afford — from an environmental and economic standpoint — is to ignore those sacrifices without any concern for the consequences. Legislation like the Extended Producer Responsibility Act does just that. By dramatically and immediately cutting the use of plastics, the only guaranteed outcomes of the bill will be increased use of environmentally detrimental alternatives, higher prices for consumers and manufacturing jobs gone for good.

Far too often, activists expect their agenda to advance with a blank check and no questions asked. That’s never a wise course of action. Environmental conservation and economic prosperity are not mutually exclusive goals. But driving up expenses on families during a time of record inflation is irresponsible. Over-regulating manufacturers still struggling to get back on their feet is equally misguided.

Prudence has never been the strongest attribute of many of New York’s policymakers. Just look at New York’s “Green New Deal,” which proposes to completely overhaul the state’s energy sector at a price of $300 billion. Rather than respect the day-to-day challenges of everyday families, their environmental mission generally boils down to targets and timetables. We cannot allow that same standard to be repeated.

If there was ever a time to take a practical approach, we’re living in it today.

Will Barclay

Assembly Minority Leader


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