Are Plastic Grocery Bags Falsely Labeled as “Single-Use” Bags?

Hemdchentuete
By Phrontis [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Bag Banners have long demonized disposable plastic grocery bags by labeling them as “single-use” plastic carryout bags that, they claim, are only used only a few minutes to carry your groceries home. These claims disputed by citizens who understand that plastic grocery bags are not single-use bags but are reused by consumers for a variety of other purposes. While Bag Banners and public officials only half-heartedly acknowledged such reuse, they steadfastly refused to consider the environmental benefits that such reuse creates. The question “Are Plastic Grocery Bags Falsely Labeled as ‘Single-Use’ Bags?” is an important question that will be examined from several perspectives in this paper. In addition, paper grocery bags and also the newly mandated thicker plastic grocery bags will be examined including the terminology used to describe these bags. We intend to expose the blatant falsehood behind labeling a shopping bag as either single-use or reusable.

Plastic T-Shirt Bags (aka Plastic Grocery Bags)

Plastic grocery bags with handles are actually named “Plastic T-shirt Bags” and come in a variety of sizes, colors, and custom printed logos. They are a time saving convenience for both the retailer and the customer and which offers the retailer a marketing opportunity to advertise their business. For customers, they are not only convenient, clean, and safe, but they also serve a multitude of other uses after transporting their purchases home. So how did these safe, clean, convenient and reused plastic “T-shirt bags” get relabeled as “Single-Use Plastic Carryout Bags” in city, county, and state laws?

To read more click on the following link: Are Plastic Grocery Bags Falsely Labeled as Single-Use Bags

Dallas, TX City Council Repeals Bag Fee – Rejects Bag Ban

640px-Dallas_Downtown
Dallas Downtown” by fcn80. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Dallas, Texas.  Faced with a lawsuit claiming that the city did not have authority to tax plastic grocery bags, a lawsuit the city was certain to lose, the Dallas City Council voted 10-4 to repeal the ordinance that placed 5-cent fee on plastic grocery bags. In a companion motion, to ban plastic grocery bags entirely, the City Council voted 9-6 to reject the ban. On Monday, 8 June grocery stores will again be able to issue plastic grocery bags to shoppers for free. (Findell, 2015)

Unlike California, where grocers get to keep 100% of the plastic and paper bag fees; grocers in Dallas only get to keep 10% with 90% of the fee going to the city. The 5-cent plastic bag fee was originally approved by Dallas City Council in March 2014 and went into effect in January, 2015. (Gillett, 2015)

The Dallas plastic grocery bag fee became a hot issue when a group of bag manufacturers and recyclers filed suit against the city. The lawsuit alleged that the 5-cent-per-bag tax passed by the City Council in March 2014 violates the Texas Solid Waste Disposal Act. At the time the Dallas Bag Fee was passed, then-State Attorney General Greg Abbott (now Governor Abbott) was looking into whether bag bans or taxes were legal in the state. He concluded that such ordinances were a violation of state law. (Putrich, 2015)

Several of the Dallas City Council members argued that the bag fee was government overreach. Several other council members argued that consumers were beginning to change shopping habits. The presence of the Plastic Bag Monster™ did not persuade council members.

The motion to repeal the 5-cent fee on plastic bags was passed by the City Council, 10-4 with council members Mike Rawlings, Tennell Atkins, Monica Alonzo, Adam Medrano, Vonciel Jones Hill, Rick Callahan, Sheffie Kadane, Jerry Allen, Lee Kleinman, and Jennifer Staubach Gates voting YES to repeal the bag fee. Council members Scott Griggs, Dwaine Caraway, Sandy Greyson, and Philip Kingston voted NO to keep the 5-cent bag fee in place. (Findell, 2015)

The companion motion to ban plastic grocery bags failed to pass the City Council by a vote of 9-6 with council members Scott Griggs, Adam Medrano, Dwaine Caraway, Lee Kleinman, Philip Kingston, and Carolyn Davis voting YES to ban plastic grocery bags and council members Mike Rawlings, Tennell Atkins, Monica Alonzo, Vonciel Jones Hill, Rick Callahan, Sheffie Kadane, Jerry Allen, Sandy Greyson, and Jennifer Staubach Gates to vote NO to keep plastic grocery bags. (Findell, 2015)

Bibliography

Findell, E. (2015, June 3). Update: Dallas City Council votes to repeal 5-cent bag fee; bags free starting Monday. Retrieved from The Dallas Morning News: http://cityhallblog.dallasnews.com/2015/06/dallas-city-council-debates-5-cent-bag-fee.html/

Gillett, B. (2015, June 3). Dallas City Council Repeals 5-Cent Plastic Bag Fee. Retrieved from CBSDFW.com: http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2015/06/03/dallas-city-council-repeals-5-cent-plastic-bag-fee/

Putrich, G. S. (2015, June 3). Dallas does away with its bag fee, rejects plastic bag ban. Retrieved from Plastic News: http://www.plasticsnews.com/article/20150603/NEWS/150609954/dallas-does-away-with-its-bag-fee-rejects-plastic-bag-ban

Huntington Beach Plastic Bag Ban Repeal Passes Final Hurdle

A Sunny Day on Huntington Beach
A Sunny Day on Huntington Beach

On Monday, 4 May, 2015 the Huntington Beach City Council voted 6 to 1 to finalize the repeal of the two year old ban on plastic bags and the mandatory 10-cent fee on paper bags. The repeal is effective on 3 June, 2015 when stores can again issue plastic carryout bags. (Carpio, 2015)

Council-members Mike Posey, Erik Peterson, Billy O’Connell, Barbara Delgleize, Dave Sullivan, and Jim Katapodis voted to finalize repeal the ordinance and Mayor Jill Hardy voted to keep the ban in place. (van Leeuwen, 2015)

According to Council-member Mike Posey, the plastic bag ban was never an environmental issue, but an issue of personal freedom. (Sharon, 2015)

After the Council Meeting, Mike Posey told conservative website Breitbart, “It’s a freedom issue. . . . Litter from plastic bags is caused by misuse and not use, and I object to punishing everyone because some people choose to litter.” (Broder, 2015) Continue reading Huntington Beach Plastic Bag Ban Repeal Passes Final Hurdle

Huntington Beach takes step towards repeal of plastic bag ban

Huntington Beach Central Park - Wikimedia Commons photo taken by DHN on July 11, 2005.
Huntington Beach Central Park – Wikimedia Commons photo taken by DHN on July 11, 2005.

On April 21, 2015 the Huntington Beach City Council voted 6 to 1 to repeal the city’s two year old plastic bag ban and put an end to the government mandate that a private business charge their customers a fee of 10-cents for each paper bag. The Huntington Beach City Council must now schedule a second reading in 30 days before the repeal can be officially adopted. (Sharon, 2015)

Last January, the Huntington Beach City Council voted 6 to 1 to start the process of repealing the city’s plastic bag ban. Council-members Mike Posey, Erik Peterson, Billy O’Connell, Barbara Delgleize, Dave Sullivan, and Jim Katapodis voted to repeal the ordinance and Mayor Jill Hardy voted to keep the ban. See Huntington Beach votes to repeal plastic bag ban.

This is a clear victory for freedom and liberty and the ability of consumers to make their own choice as to what kind of bag they take their groceries home in.

Bibliography

Sharon, K. (2015, April 20). Are plastic bags back in Huntington Beach? Retrieved from http://www.ocregister.com/articles/bags-658794-plastic-ban.html

Arizona Governor Signs Bill to Prohibit Plastic Bag Bans

Phoenix-Arizona_State_CapitalOn April 13, 2015 Arizona’s Governor Ducey signed Senate Bill 1241 that would prohibit cities, towns, and counties from passing ordinances that ban or tax the use of plastic shopping bags, Styrofoam and other containers. (Gardiner, 2015) (Rau, 2015)

The bill’s author, Rep. Warren Peterson, R-Gilbert, cited concerns that plastic bag bans and similar regulations raise costs and create a regulatory nightmare for businesses. He stated that he is concerned about economic freedom and that he supports the right of individuals to make their own decisions. (Gardiner, 2015)

Cities and counties across the country have passed legislation to ban the use of plastic carryout bags. Bag Ban Proponents and environmental advocates claim that plastic bags are a major litter item; they needlessly contribute to landfills, generate greenhouse gas emissions, and clog recycling machinery. Readers of this blog, will know that plastic carryout bags are a minor litter item (See article: San Jose Litter Surveys Examined – Plastic Bag Ban Completely Unjustified ), contribute much less material to landfills that paper and reusable bags (See article: California Landfills Impacted By Bag Bans), generate smaller amounts of greenhouse gas emissions than paper and reusable bags (see article: Plastic Bags – Greener Than Alternatives).

The problem with clogging recycling machinery is real, but what bag banners do not tell you, is that banning plastic grocery (or carryout) bags will not prevent all jams of sorting machinery at recycling facilities or expensive breakdowns. The sorting equipment at these facilities are being jammed not only by plastic carryout bags, but by all sorts of plastic bags (newspaper bags, produce bags, frozen food bags) and plastic wrap (wrap from toilet paper, bottled beverages, bottled water, packaged products), and from all sorts of materials (blankets, hoses, ropes or other strapping materials) which are all responsible for jamming sorting machinery. (Terry, 2007)

Educating the public that plastic bags and wraps and other prohibited materials may not be put in the curbside recycling bin would be a much better solution to the problem. Furthermore, the public needs to be educated about bringing unused and clean plastic bags and wraps to the retail stores’ In-Store Recycling Bin for recycling vice the curbside recycle bin.

Bibliography

Gardiner, D. (2015, March 28 ). Arizona bill would block bans on plastic bags. Retrieved from The Republic: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/arizona/politics/2015/04/14/ducey-signs-travel-plastic-bag-bills/25752817/

Rau, A. B. (2015, April 13). Ducey signs travel-ID, plastic-bag bills. Retrieved from The Republic: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/arizona/politics/2015/03/27/arizona-bill-block-bans-plastic-bags/70529702/

Terry, B. (2007, October 8). Recycling Part 2: Lessons from the Davis Street Transfer Center – See more at: http://myplasticfreelife.com/2007/10/recycling-part-2-lessons-from-davis/#sthash.ojyGOAe8.dpuf. Retrieved from My Plastic Free Life: http://myplasticfreelife.com/2007/10/recycling-part-2-lessons-from-davis/

 

San Jose Litter Surveys Examined: Plastic Bag Ban Completely Unjustified!

The new City Hall of San Jose, California. The...
The new City Hall of San Jose, California. The perspective is west down East Santa Clara Street towards Fifth Street.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The City of San Jose, to their credit, is one of the few cities that conducted litter surveys both before and after the city’s bag ban. Results showing the percentage reduction of single-use plastic carryout bags (i.e. plastic grocery bags) as a component of litter have been cited by the city as proof that the city’s bag ban is effective. Likewise, environmental groups nationwide have touted these same results as a justification for promoting new bag bans and opposing repeal efforts. Unfortunately, the City of San Jose did not conduct litter surveys in a controlled and scientific manner, did not correctly analyze survey data, and did not put survey results into proper perspective. As a result, the data collected is unreliable for computing a meaningful figure of merit, such as the percent reduction in plastic carryout bag litter resulting from the city’s plastic bag ban.

Yet, despite these shortcomings, the litter surveys did reveal several surprising facts that have escaped the notice of city officials, the media, and those in other cities who cite San Jose’s claims:

  • That only half of ALL plastic bag litter found in sampled areas on city streets and creeks consists of single-use plastic carryout bags; hence, a bag ban would at most eliminate only about half of all plastic bag litter.
  • That only about 10% of litter in creeks consists of single-use plastic carryout bags; hence, a bag ban affects at most 10% of ALL litter in creeks, leaving the remaining 90% unresolved. Therefore, all of the cost and cleanup efforts still need to be implemented since this will not meet the 100% reduction goal required under the federal Clean Water Act.
  • That the number of single-use plastic carryout bags found during all of the litter surveys in 2009, 2010, and 2011 (prior to the bag ban) average only 1,000 bags per year, or less than 1 for every 1,000 people, or the equivalent of what two (2) people out of a population of more than 1 million would use annually!

The use of unreliable and questionable survey data to project large percentage reductions of an insignificant number of littered plastic grocery bags combined with a complete lack of evidence of any cost savings to the city or to the people show that the bag ban was never justified from the beginning, and that the ongoing cost burden to San Jose families is likewise unjustified.

To read the entire article, click the following link: San Jose Litter Surveys Examined – Plastic Bag Ban Completely Unjustified

Referendum to Overturn Ban on Plastic Grocery Bags Qualifies For 2016 Ballot

Reconstitution of the office of the California...
Reconstitution of the office of the California Secretary of State in November 1902 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On February 24, 2015 the California Secretary of State, Mr. Alex Padilla, certified that the referendum to Overturn California’s Statewide Ban on Plastic Grocery Bags qualified for the 2016 ballot and will be decided by voters. The irony of ironies is that the California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who as legislator had championed the plastic bag ban, had to certify that sufficient valid signature were collected by referendum proponents to put it on the ballot! A total of 809,810 signatures were submitted by referendum proponents and county registrars projected that 598,684 signatures were valid based upon random sampling. A total of 504,760 valid signatures were needed with 93,924 signatures over and above the quantity needed.

Although, more than 100 jurisdictions within the state have implemented bag bans, they were implemented largely by nanny-state politicians, who thought it more important to be politically correct and be seen as “green” than doing the right thing. In fact, in every jurisdiction that has a plastic bag ban in the state of California, the bag ban was implemented by local politicians, rather than by a vote of the people. The referendum will finally give ordinary citizens the chance to vote up or down on the statewide bag ban.

It should be stated that plastic grocery bag litter is an insignificant litter problem that can easily be handled by more traditional litter abatement methods than by imposing draconian bag bans. In the article “San Jose Discovers Bag Ban Does Not Solve Litter Problems” we show that San Jose’s bag ban was useless in terms of reducing overall litter and in an upcoming article, we will show that San Jose’s own litter surveys show that plastic grocery bag litter to be an insignificant problem.

 

 

 

 

San Jose Miscalculates Plastic Bag Litter Reduction in Storm Drain System

A very clear day!
A very clear day! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ten months after the City of San Jose implemented their Plastic Bag Ban, Kerrie Romanov, Director of Environmental Services for the City of San Jose, issued a memorandum dated November 20, 2012 to the San Jose City Council claiming success of the “Plastic Bag Ban” (San Jose ordinance #28877). Romanov claimed this success based upon a 59% reduction in plastic bag litter on city streets and neighborhoods, a 60% reduction in plastic bag litter in creeks, and an 89% reduction of plastic bag litter in storm drains.

These statistics, particularly the 89% storm drain plastic bag reduction, have been widely quoted by bag ban proponents as empirical evidence that bag bans are effective in reducing plastic carryout bag litter and that bag bans “work”. Continue reading San Jose Miscalculates Plastic Bag Litter Reduction in Storm Drain System

Huntington Beach City Council Votes to Repeal Plastic Bag Ban

Flag of Huntington Beach
Flag of Huntington Beach

On 20 January, 2015 the Huntington Beach City Council voted 6 to 1 to start the process of repealing the city’s plastic bag ban. Councilmembers Mike Posey, Erik Peterson, Billy O’Connell, Barbara Delgleize, Dave Sullivan, and Jim Katapodis voted to repeal the ordinance and Mayor Jill Hardy voted to keep the ban.

The agenda item that was voted on instructs the city manager to begin the repeal process including preparation of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) which is estimated to cost $5,000. The EIR is expected to take between two and three months to complete, and when completed, the issue will go back to council for final approval.

The proposal to repeal the plastic bag ban was put on the council agenda by Councilman Mike Posey who expressed that he and others have issues with what they believe is overreach by the previous city council. (Carpio, Plastic bag ban repeal process starts in Huntington, 2015) Continue reading Huntington Beach City Council Votes to Repeal Plastic Bag Ban

San Jose’s Bag Ban Useless in Solving Litter Problems –Should Be Rescinded

Palm trees lining streets in San Jose, California
Palm trees lining streets in San Jose, California (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As previously noted in the blog article titled “San Jose Painfully Learns Litter Problems Were Not Solved by Plastic Bag Ban!”, the City of San Jose is painfully discovering that it’s much touted plastic bag ban that cost residents millions of dollars did virtually nothing to solve the city’s serious litter problems. According to the Environmental Impact Report (EIR), one of the stated reasons for implementing the bag ban was to reduce litter on city streets, in creeks, and in storm drains. (City of San Jose, 2010) Two years after the plastic bag ban was implemented, that there has been no reduction of overall litter. Furthermore, the case is made, using San Jose’s own litter surveys and claims of bag ban success, to show that the plastic bag ban was never needed but was a very expensive mistake.

Although the exact number of single-use paper and plastic carryout bags used in the city is unknown, the city estimates that 68 million paper bags and 500 million single-use plastic carryout bags are used every year. In fact the Draft EIR identifies that 1.4 plastic bags are used per day by every living person in the City of San Jose which equates to 511 plastic carryout bags per person per year. (City of San Jose, 2010) This means that a family of four would use 4 x 511 or 2044 plastic bags per year.

In a November 20, 2012 memorandum to the San Jose City Council from Kerrie Romanov (Director of Environmental Services for San Jose) the following statement was made:

Reducing the use of single-use carryout bags … supports the City’s Stormwater Permit requirement to reduce trash from the storm drain system from entering local creeks and enhance water quality: reduces litter in City sheets and neighborhoods: and lowers the cost of litter control.” (Romanov, 2012, p. 2) Continue reading San Jose’s Bag Ban Useless in Solving Litter Problems –Should Be Rescinded