The American Progressive Bag Alliance (APBA) announced that it has turned in more than 800,000 signatures to county registrars. The APBA needed only about 505,000 signatures to qualify the referendum. If county registrars certify that the required numbers of signatures were collected, the law would be put on hold until the 2016 general election where voters will have the opportunity to vote on the issue. (Associated Press, 2014)
Some people welcome a ban on plastic carryout bags, others are opposed, and others are not sure. This article is intended for those of you who are in between and unsure whether you should oppose or support a bag ban.
With as much that goes on in the world today that vies for our attention, getting excited about plastic grocery bags (i.e. plastic carryout bags) is certainly not high on the totem pole. We live in a topsy–turvy world where things that were once banned are allowed (e.g. marijuana) and things that were once allowed are now banned (e.g. plastic carryout bags).
So how can we approach this subject in a fair and impartial manner? How can we determine if we should support or oppose a bag ban? We know that when the legislature or a local jurisdiction passes a law they are trying to solve a perceived problem. So the answer to the question is to understand the nature of the problem and how the proposed solution or law intends to solve that problem and most important what alternative solutions were considered. The more clearly we understand this the better we can see how our personal freedom and liberties are affected and whether that intrusion is warranted and justified.
The purpose of this paper is not to provide a detailed explanation of the problem and the solution (e.g. plastic bag ban) but a philosophical argument about why or why not bag bans should be opposed.
Efforts to reduce the use of plastic grocery bags began in California with a voluntary program that encouraged shoppers to use reusable bags for bringing their groceries home. While a few shoppers complied with the program, most shoppers did not and continued to use plastic grocery bags. Bag Banners were not satisfied with these results and blamed shoppers for being “resistant to change”. They were not happy that shoppers were able to make their own choice about what kind of shopping bag to use.
Bag Banners, instead of recognizing that shoppers rejected using reusable bags and that a different solution was required, doubled down and embarked on mandatory programs to ban plastic bags. These mandatory programs not only banned plastic bags but a placed a fee on paper bags in order to coerce shoppers to use reusable bags.
Bag Banners began to push the state legislature and local jurisdictions to ban plastic carryout bags and impose a mandatory minimum fee on paper bags. Many local jurisdictions passed mandatory plastic bag ban programs most of which banned plastic bags from grocery and convenience stores only; thereby only reducing the quantity of plastic carryout bags in circulation. Eventually, in 2014 a statewide mandatory program was passed and signed into law. Continue reading A Case for the Repeal of Bag Bans→
The City of San Jose is painfully discovering that the much touted bag ban that cost residents millions of dollars in out of pocket costs and personal time did nothing to solve litter problems. An environmental group, San Francisco Baykeeper, has notified the city that intends to file a lawsuit because of the city’s failure to prevent trash and sewage from flowing into the Guadalupe River and Coyote Creek through its storm drain system and into San Francisco Bay. The lawsuit is being filed because of violations of the Federal Clean Water Act. (Rogers, 2014)
“San Jose is a hot spot for trash pollution and bacterial pollution into the bay,” said attorney Sejal Choksi, program director for Baykeeper. “Its leaders have not taken care of the problem or prioritized the issue. We’ve seen the trash, we’ve measured the bacterial pollution. What they are doing is not sufficient.” (Rogers, 2014)
In response, Kerrie Romanow, director of environmental services for the City of San Jose, stated that nine catch basins have already been installed in the storm drain system to trap trash and plans are to install 20 more in the next three years. She also stated that the city has increased street sweeping and banned plastic bags. (Rogers, 2014)