10 Reasons Small Businesses Should Oppose Bag Bans

Valley View Yosemite August 2013 by King of Hearts (Own work) CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Valley View Yosemite August 2013 by King of Hearts (Own work) CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

This website posts many articles available for download (click on Documents menu) including the following article entitled “10 Reasons Small Businesses Should Oppose Bag Bans”. This article discusses some reasons why businesses, particularly small businesses, should oppose bans on plastic carryout bags.

Plastic bag bans attempt to change people’s behavior and lifestyle by using an economic incentive to coerce (force) people into bringing and using their own reusable bags. If bringing and using your own reusable bags was such a good idea, the public would have readily adopted the solution. But pre-bag ban surveys show that only about 10% of shoppers voluntarily brought and used their own reusable bags with the majority choosing to use store provided paper and plastic carryout bags. Even after a bag ban, about two-thirds of shoppers’ reject bringing and using their own reusable bags and either chose to use no bags or chose to purchase store provided paper and reusable plastic bags. Even though the store-provided paper and reusable plastic bags purchased by customers have the word “Reusable” printed on them in large type, shoppers treat these bags as disposable bags!

In view of the above, when you consider that people act in their own self-interest and adopt solutions that work best for them, then you must conclude that plastic bag bans are a colossal failure and the wrong solution to a perceived litter problem with lightweight plastic carryout bags! The right solution would be to just use paper bags or make the plastic bags from a thicker plastic film to prevent them from so easily becoming windblown litter. In fact, in areas where the thicker reusable plastic bag has been used, there is a corresponding decrease in windblown plastic bag litter. A result that could have been achieved without trying to change shopper behavior through coercive and tyrannical means.

To view the article, click the following link: 10-reasons-why-small-businesses-should-oppose-bag-bans

To view other articles on this website, click on the Documents menu at the top of the page.

 

 

Chicago Bag Ban – A Customer Friendly Bag Ban

Chicago-City-Hall-Green-Roof
Chicago City Hall Green Rooftop Garden by Conservation Design Forum (Creative Commons via Wikimedia Commons)

Chicago’s Plastic Bag Ban is truly a unique ordinance. While the ordinance contains features found in many other bag bans across the nation, some features such as a mandatory minimum fee for store provided paper and plastic reusable bags is not included. The ordinance can therefore be said to be customer friendly.

The ordinance was passed by the City Council in 2014 and took effect on 1 August 2015 for stores with a floor area 10,000 square feet or more and 1 August 2016 for stores less than 10,000 square feet. The ban is applicable to chain stores “that sell perishable or non-perishable goods, including, but not limited to clothing, food, and personal items” where “chain store” is defined as “three or more stores having common ownership or any store, regardless of ownership, that is part of a franchise”. The ordinance is not applicable to dine in or take out restaurants or any store that is not defined as a “chain” store. (City of Chicago, 2014)

Because the bag ban exempts any store that is not a chain store, as defined in the ordinance, one could conclude that the ordinance is also small business friendly. For example, a neighborhood mom & pop grocery store or a fabric store could continue providing their customers with thin-film plastic carryout bags.

Stores subject to the bag ban ordinance must “provide reusable bags, recyclable paper bags, or commercially compostable plastic bags, or any combination thereof, to customers for the purpose of enabling the customer to carry away goods from the point of sale”. (City of Chicago, 2014)

The bag ban does not specifically impose a bag fee nor prohibits stores from imposing a fee for store-provided paper and reusable bags.

According to the article “Six months in, Chicago’s plastic bag ban a mixed bag” by Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz, a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, some stores are charging a 10-cent fee for store provided bags but most of the large grocers are giving away thicker plastic bags in place of the flimsy “T-Shirt” carryout bags. (Elejalde-Ruiz, 2016)

In a commentary published in the Chicago Tribune titled “Chicago’s misguided plastic bag ban” the author Erik Telford makes the statement that the bag ban is a “poorly designed policy gone awry” and that “the city took a half-hearted approach to regulating plastic bag use”. The author also points out that bag ban advocates want the city to add a mandatory minimum fee for store provided paper and reusable bags and one of the city’s aldermen even wants to increase the thickness of plastic reusable bags so that stores have no choice but to charge customers for them. In addition, the author’s summary paragraph says it all: Chicago’s ill-conceived plastic bag ban is the latest reminder of the dangers inherent in big government programs. New regulations almost always have unforeseen consequences. Advocating for behavior change through force of law can easily end up leaving a city worse off than it was before. (Telford, 2016)

 

Bibliography

City of Chicago. (2014, December 22). Plastic Bag Ban Will Take Effect on August 1, 2015. Retrieved from City of Chicago: http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/bacp/environmentdocs/articlexxiii_retailbaguse.pdf

Elejalde-Ruiz, A. (2016, February 1). Six months in, Chicago’s plastic bag ban a mixed bag. Retrieved from Chicago Tribune: http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-plastic-bag-ban-0131-biz-20160129-story.html

Telford, E. (2016, February 25). Commentary: Chicago’s misguided plastic bag ban. Retrieved from Chicago Tribune: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/commentary/ct-plastic-bag-ban-reusable-environment-perspec-0225-20160224-story.html

 

On The California Ballot in November 2016

Proposition 67, California Plastic Bag Ban Referendum

Seal of California - Public Domain
Seal of California – Public Domain

Proposition 67 is a Referendum to overturn the California Statewide Ban on single-use plastic bags.  A “YES” vote would uphold the law and a “NO” vote would overturn it.

Fight The Plastic Bag Ban recommends a NO vote on this proposition.

In 2014, the California State Legislature passed a ban on single-use plastic bags which was signed into law by Governor Brown.  Subsequently, the new law was challenged through the referendum process by the American Progressive Bag Alliance (APBA).  The APBA collected signatures on petitions and a sufficient number of signatures were collected to put the law (SB-270) on the ballot for voter approval/disapproval.

If the law is upheld, the use of single-use plastic carryout bags would be prohibited and most but not all customers would be forced to pay 10-cents for each paper or plastic reusable bag distributed at the point of sale.

If the law is upheld, the law would create two classes of shoppers.  One class of shoppers would have to pay the 10-cents bag fee for each store-provided paper or plastic reusable bag; the other class of shoppers would be exempt and receive store-provided bags at no cost.  Customers who pay 10-cents each for store provided bags would subsidize the cost of providing bags to customer who are exempt from the bag fee.  The customers who are exempt from the bag fee are those customers who participate in public assistance programs, such as food stamps.

Whatever happened to treating all customers equally?

The 10-cent bag fee is not subject to sales tax and the entire amount collected is kept by store providing a huge windfall to grocers.  It should be noted that the law died in the California State Assembly, until the United Food and Commercial Workers Union and Safeway struck a deal regarding the 10-cent bag fee.

It should be noted, that voting NO on this proposition will not repeal local bag bans.  However, if voters reject the statewide bag ban, it will provide impetus to opponents of local bag bans and greatly assist in repealing them.

For more information about Proposition 67 see the following article: California Plastic Bag Ban Referendum, Proposition 67 (2016).

In addition, check out the following articles:

Plastic Bag Bans – Designed to Generate and Protect Bag Revenue from Competition!

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

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

Arizona Governor Signs Bill to Prohibit Plastic Bag Bans

Proposition 65, Carry-Out Bags. Charges. Initiative Statute

Proposition 65 is an initiative statute that would redirects money collected by grocery and other retail stores through sale of carry-out bags and require those funds to be deposited into a special fund administered by the Wildlife Conservation Board to support specific environmental projects.  If voters pass Proposition 67 to uphold the state’s current carryout bag law, Proposition 65 would require that bag fees collected from shoppers be redirected to the state.  Revenues are expected to exceed tens of millions of dollars annually.  Revenues would be used for grants for certain environmental and natural resources purposes.  If voters reject the state’s current carryout bag law, there would likely be minor fiscal effects.

Fight The Plastic Bag Ban recommends a YES vote on this proposition.

For more information about Proposition 65 see the following article: California Carry-Out Bag Revenue Initiative, Proposition 65 (2016)

A plastic bag ban does not produce any significant environmental benefits in proportion to the cost and effort expended by shoppers.  In the article “Bag Bans – A Waste of Time and Money!” the author argues and demonstrates that bag bans are large on cost with negligible environmental benefits.  Proposition 65 if passed would deny a financial windfall to grocers and instead put that money towards real projects that benefit the environment.

In addition, check out the following articles:

Plastic Bag Bans – Designed to Generate and Protect Bag Revenue from Competition!

Plastic Bag Manufacturers File New Initiative

 

Plastic Bag Bans – Designed to Generate and Protect Bag Revenue from Competition!

Short Canyon in Owens Peak Wilderness – By Bureau of Land Management – via Wikimedia Commons

Most people believe that laws banning plastic grocery bags are all about protecting the environment from plastic bag litter that damages the environment and harms wildlife. However, the real reason for a plastic bag ban has nothing to do with the environment and everything to do with generating profitable bag fees and protecting those bag fees from being eliminated or eroded away by competition.

This paper makes the case that grocers, reusable bag manufacturers, and environmental organizations have teamed up to pressure state and local officials in passing bag ban laws in their own self-interest at the expense of consumers while doing very little for the environment. Continue reading Plastic Bag Bans – Designed to Generate and Protect Bag Revenue from Competition!

Milpitas bag ban mistake – No legal ground to impose 10-cent bag fee!

How ironic that the sculpture in front of City Hall is of the Milpitas Minuteman, supposedly representing freedom of the people from a tyrannical government. Photo By David Alan Clark (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
How ironic that the sculpture in front of City Hall is of the Milpitas Minuteman, supposedly representing freedom of the people from a tyrannical government. Photo By David Alan Clark (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Last September, the Milpitas City Council reversed a previous council decision and quietly passed a bag ban that affected every business and citizen of Milpitas beginning on January 1, 2016.

However, in their hurry to pass a plastic bag ban, they made a critical error in the language of the ordinance that imposes a “minimum fee” for paper or reusable bags distributed to customers at the point of sale. Section II-5-4.00-part B of Ordinance 287 clearly identifies a limited time frame for any minimum fee as follows:

“B. On or before January 1, 2016, a retail establishment may only make recycled paper bags or reusable bags available to customers if the retailer charges a minimum of ten cents.” [Milpitas Ordinance 287]

Thus, according to the legally passed ordinance, on or after January 2, 2016 there is no such minimum fee requirement for paper and reusable bags distributed by Milpitas retailers at the point of sale.

However, this error has additional benefits to businesses. Part C of that same section indicates that only bags that are available for sale are required to be separately itemized on the sale receipt. This would, therefore, not apply to bags that are provided for free on or after January 2, 2016. And Section III-5-5.00 requires every retail establishment to track the daily number of bags sold for a minimum of 3 years. Again, this would not apply to bags that are provided for free on or after January 2, 2016. Continue reading Milpitas bag ban mistake – No legal ground to impose 10-cent bag fee!

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch Myth Debunked

By NOAA [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Pacific Garbage Patch by NOAA [Public domain via Wikimedia Commons]
We have all heard the expression “I’m from Missouri”. This response is usually uttered by a person who is skeptical about what they have heard or read. In fact, a smart person, is a person who is skeptical and who has learned how to discern truth from falsehood and who will not let emotional arguments sway them but searches out the truth and the underlying facts.

Despite the fact that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch has been shown to be a myth, this myth is still repeated in public testimony before city councils in support of plastic bag bans.

It is refreshing to see several well written articles that debunk this myth about floating islands of plastic debris in the ocean, and how this particular myth got started. You will enjoy reading these well documented articles:

Are we really “choking the ocean with plastic”? Tracing the creation of an eco-myth

And here’s the earlier article the author refers to:

An Ocean of Plastic

Santa Barbara County Passes Bag Ban

Santa Barbara-County Courthouse by Eugene Zelenko (own work) , from Wikimedia Commons
Santa Barbara-County Courthouse by Eugene Zelenko (own work) , from Wikimedia Commons

On Tuesday, August 25 the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors passed an Ordinance on a 3-2 vote to ban Single-Use Plastic Bags at Markets and pharmacies in the unincorporated areas of Santa Barbara County.

Supervisors Salud Carbajal, Janet Wolf, and Doreen Farr voted for the bag ban and Supervisors Peter Adam and Steve Lavagnino voted against the bag ban.

Opponents of the California statewide plastic bag ban successfully challenged the state law by collecting enough signatures from registered voters to put the measure on the 2016 ballot through the referendum process, a safeguard provided in California’s Constitution. The statewide referendum will finally give ordinary citizens the opportunity to vote on this unpopular measure.

Supervisors Lavagnino and Adam stated that they were not comfortable with the idea of getting out in front of the statewide referendum. (McNulty, 2015) Continue reading Santa Barbara County Passes Bag Ban

Oceanside City Council Rejects Plastic Bag Ban

A view of the Civic Center in Oceanside, California
A view of the Civic Center in Oceanside, California – by Visitor7 (Own Work) – Wikimedia Commons

On October 21, 2015, the Oceanside City Council voted 3-2 against moving ahead with a proposed plastic bag ban. Councilmen Jack Feller and Jerry Kern and Councilwoman Esther Sanchez opposed the agenda item and Mayor Jim Wood and Deputy Mayor Chuck Lowery voted in favor. (Sifuentes, Council trashes plastic bag ban proposal, 2015)

The agenda item, if it had passed, would have directed city staff and the Utilities Commission to prepare a Single-Use Carryout Bag ordinance from the sample Single-Use Carryout Bag ordinance contained in Appendix Q of the Oceanside Zero Waste Strategic Resource Management Plan, seek public input, and submit a proposed ordinance with recommendations to the council.

Deputy Mayor Chuck Lowery put the proposed bag ban ordinance on the agenda, citing that plastic carryout bags are polluting local waterways and beaches. (Sifuentes, 2015)

Councilman Jerry Kern said he opposed the proposed ordinance and preferred to wait until after the results of the 2016 referendum on the statewide plastic bag ban are known. (Sifuentes, 2015) Continue reading Oceanside City Council Rejects Plastic Bag Ban

Austin’s Plastic Bag Ban a Colossal Failure!

Austin City Hall Front
Austin City Hall – By M. Fitzsimmons via Creative Commons (CC) – Wikimedia Commons

In June 2015, the Austin Resource Recovery Service released a candid report entitled “Environmental Effects of the Single Use Bag Ordinance in Austin, Texas” questioning the effectiveness of the city’s own bag ban. The report noted that the ordinance reduced litter from “single-use” or “lightweight” plastic carryout bags, but that the unintended consequence was an increase in the use of 4-mil reusable plastic shopping bags (disposed of after just a single-use), and the increased cost to consumers and retailers. (Waters, 2015, p. 28)

The primary goal of the Austin Single-Use Bag Ordinance was to reduce the volume of plastic carryout bags dumped in the landfill. The city’s own self-assessment reported that the weight of 4-mil plastic reusable bags disposed of by shoppers after just a single use was just as much as the lightweight plastic bags disposed of in the landfill before the ban. (Cape, 2015) In other words, the bag ban backfired and resulted in a much higher environmental cost. (Waters, 2015, p. 25)

To view or read the entire article click on the following link: Austin’s Plastic Bag Ban a Colossal Failure

Plastic Bag Manufacturers File New Initiative

California Attorney General, Kamala D. Harris
California Attorney General, Kamala D. Harris

On October 2, 2015 the American Progressive Bag Alliance, representing plastic bag manufacturers, filed a proposed initiative statute with Kamala D. Harris, California State Attorney General, entitled the “Environmental Fee Protection Act.”  The initiative would require that mandated fees paid by shoppers for carryout bags to be put into a statewide environmental fund rather than kept by grocers. (Lin, 2015) (Johnson, 2015)

According the filing: “The purpose of the Environmental Fee Protection Act is to fulfill Californians’ expectations by requiring that any charges on carryout bags paid by consumers in connection with, or to advance, any plastic bag ban are dedicated to appropriate and worthy environmental objectives like drought mitigation, recycling, clean drinking water supplies, parks, beach cleanup, litter removal, and wildlife habitat restoration.” (Johnson, 2015)

To be more explicit, the proposed initiative declares as follows:

“The People of the State of California find and declare as follows:

(a)          In 2014, the California state Legislature enacted a ban on plastic carryout bags after lobbying by special interests including the California Grocers Association.

(b)          The law further mandated that stores sell every paper or reusable carryout bag they provide to consumers for a minimum of 10 cents. Stores can charge even more if they so choose, and the grocers and retailers are specifically required by the law to keep these mandated sales charges as extra revenue.

(c)           None of the sales charges on carryout bags required by state law will go to environmental purposes. The Legislature specifically wrote the law in such a way as to make these sales charges additional revenue to grocers and retailers.

(d)          This special interest deal will provide grocers and retailers over $400 million in added revenue every year – all at the expense of California consumers and with little or no benefit to the environment.

(e)          The people of California have every right to expect that any sales charges on carryout bags they are required by state law to pay are dedicated to protecting the environment; not enriching corporations.” (Johnson, 2015) Continue reading Plastic Bag Manufacturers File New Initiative