Last summer, it was revealed that the plastics industry heavily influenced some changes to the proposed Cal/EPA Environmental Education Curriculum.
As we noted back in August of 2011, one high school lesson plan titled "Consequences of Consumption" was altered after the industry made some suggestions:
"In 2009, Gerald Lieberman, a private consultant hired by California school officials, added a new section to the 11th-grade teachers' edition textbook called 'The Advantages of Plastic Shopping Bags.' In one instance, the title and some of the textbook language were inserted almost verbatim from letters written by the ACC.
Although the curriculum includes the environmental hazards of plastic bags, the consultant also added a five-point question to a workbook asking students to list some advantages. According to the revised teachers' edition, the correct answer is: 'Plastic shopping bags are very convenient to use. They take less energy to manufacture than paper bags, cost less to transport and can be reused.' "
When the story broke, it caught the attention of environmentalists and concerned parents across the state. State Senator Fran Pavley, who authored legislation that led to the creation of the curriculum noted, "The American Chemistry Council obviously got engaged to protect their bottom line."
Today Cal/EPA announced a new and improved set of changes. The comment period ends on June 4.
According to the Cal/EPA website "These improvements are geared toward ensuring the text is academically rigorous, free of bias, reflective of instructional best practices, and factually accurate (e.g., all statistics reflect the best information available at this time)."
We are pleased to see that the test question "What are the advantages of using plastic shopping bags?" has been reworded to "What factors have contributed to the consumption of plastic shopping bags?".
The recycling rate of plastic bags is also more accurately stated (3% in 2009 according to CalRecycle and not the 12% in the original version).
But most importantly, the "Advantages of Plastic Shoppings Bags" section has been completely removed in this version.