September 17, 2020

PennFuture Letter to the Editor in the Erie Times-News

Plastic flakes will likely pose a greater threat than plastic pellets

International Recycling Group recently announced a $100 million investment in Erie to build a plastics sorting facility, which presents benefits to Erie in the form of jobs and tax revenue.

Erie can be pro-industry and forward-thinking only by expecting high standards that promote a sustainable economy that works for all residents. That means advocating for prevailing, family-sustaining wages, considering the impacts to all residents, and enforcement of stringent environmental protections.

This facility will sort plastics and grind some into flakes to be shipped across Lake Erie to Canada, where they will be burned. This presents potential problems for air and water quality, and for aquatic life. Plastic pellets are already a concern in Erie and plastic flakes will likely pose a greater threat because they are lighter and more easily carried by wind.

Is expanding further into the plastics industry, so connected with local pollution and pollution all over the globe, the right path for a city and region that are trying to reinvent themselves into a greener, cleaner and more equitable community?

It was recently announced that Wabtec, which is Erie’s largest manufacturer, will produce hybrid diesel electric locomotives for use in New York City transit. While not perfect because this still falls back on relying on fossil fuels for use in transportation when cleaner alternatives exist, this is a good example of forward-thinking manufacturing.

Erie has great human and intellectual capital. Its academic, business, civic and community resources have what it takes to make a fresh start and create a truly innovative economic path forward for this great city on the lake.

Jacquelyn Bonomo, president and CEO, PennFuture