Category Archives: Bag Ban Myths and Misinformation

Is California’s Bag Ban Really a Success?

Lassen Volcanic National Park – Terminal Geyser by Eugene Zelenko CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The San Jose Mercury News recently published an editorial entitled “Success! California’s first-in-the-nation plastic bag ban works”. The editorial claims that because fewer plastic bags were found during this year’s Coastal Clean Up day proves that California’s “grand experiment” with a plastic bag ban is a success. (Mercury News & East Bay Times Editorial Boards, 2017)

But is finding fewer littered plastic bags a real measure of the bag ban’s success? If not, how do you really measure the success of the state’s plastic bag ban law? Is success not determined by results and how well each of the law’s objectives are met? The answer is a resounding, Yes!

Success is defined as “The accomplishment of an aim or purpose.” (Oxford Dictionary, 2017) Using this definition and assuming a narrowly defined goal to reduce or eliminate single-use plastic grocery bag litter, then the plastic bag ban could be considered “a success”. It could never be otherwise! After all, if you ban or sharply curtail the use of single-use plastic grocery bags there will be fewer available to be littered. Continue reading Is California’s Bag Ban Really a Success?

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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

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

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

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

The California Bag Ban Scam

Capture10Statewide and local bag bans were a SCAM from the very beginning. These measures can best be characterized by deceitful scheming, repeated lies and distortions, backroom deals, a supportive one-sided media, and enough politicians succumbing to political correctness to force this law and the resulting shopping behavior changes on the people of California.

Not only were Californians deprived of more reasonable and acceptable solutions to address plastic bag litter by the shenanigans of bag banners but will also pay an additional $1 Billion per year just to take their groceries home.  And after spending all that money, litter will hardly be  affected at all!  More than 99.6% of litter will still be there waiting to be picked up.

These measures were passed by progressive politicians, and even though the measures affect every one of their constituents, both financially and through the expenditure of personal time, none were allowed to vote for it. In fact, to date, no member of the public  has ever been given the chance to vote for or against these measures!

The paper “The California Plastic Bag Ban Scam” examines and exposes the methods used by the bag banners to push bag bans at the local and state level, and how they were able to push through a law that is not only unpopular, but also sets new dangerous precedents in governmental power and law.

To read or download the article, click on the following link: The California Plastic Bag Ban Scam.

The authors welcome any feedback or corrections to this article.

Why You Should Oppose Bag Bans

English: Ten Mile River (California), looking ...
English: Ten Mile River (California), looking northward from California State Route 1 as it crosses near the mouth of the river. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

Click on the following link to read the entire article:  Why You Should Oppose Bag Bans

Santa Clara City Council Passes Bag Ban

English: A sign in Santa Clara, California pro...
A sign in Santa Clara, California proclaims the city’s status as an All-America City in 2001. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On 19 August 2014, the Santa Clara City Council, by a unanimous vote, passed an Ordinance to prohibit the distribution of single-use carry-out bags including the approval and Adoption of a Negative Declaration pursuant with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  The latter document declared that the bag ban will not result in a significant environmental impact.

Similar to ordinances passed by other cities, the proposed ordinance would ban the distribution of plastic carryout bags at point of sale beginning 1 December 2014.  Retailers may also make paper bags or reusable bags (Cloth or thick plastic bags) available for sale at a minimum fee of 10 cents.  In addition, customers who participate in WIC or SNAP (Food Stamp Programs) are eligible to receive one or more paper bags at NO COST.  The fees collected by the retail establishment are to be retained by the retailer and are meant to pay for the cost of implementing the ordinance (i.e. the cost of paper bags provided to customers paying the paper bag fee and the cost of free paper bags received by WIC and SNAP participants.) (van Leeuwen, Plastic Bag Ban Creates New Welfare Benefit, 2013)  A retail establishment is subject to a fine for each occurrence where it provides a customer a plastic carryout bag not meeting the requirements of a reusable bag at the point of sale for the purpose of carrying purchases home. Continue reading Santa Clara City Council Passes Bag Ban

Ventura County Supervisors Vote to Move Ahead with Bag Ban

Much of the western U.S. is in "extreme d...
Much of the western U.S. is in “extreme drought” Despite drought, there seems to be plenty of water to wash reusable bags! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Tuesday, 24 June, 2014, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors voted to proceed with a Single-Use Carryout Bag Ordinance for the unincorporated areas in Ventura County. The ordinance would ban the free distribution of single-use paper and plastic carryout bags and impose a charge of 10-cents for recyclable paper bags. The item was placed on the agenda by supervisors Steve Bennett and John Zaragoza, both of whom feared that the State of California would not pass a statewide plastic bag ban, a solution both of them preferred. The agenda item would direct county staff to prepare an ordinance based on the model ordinance contained in the Beach Erosion Authority for Clean Oceans (BEACON) Environmental Impact Report (EIR). It should be mentioned that Supervisors Bennett and Zaragoza also serve on the BEACON board, a joint powers authority that was responsible for development of the BEACON EIR.

According to the agenda item, “The ordinance would apply to supermarkets, grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience food stores, liquor stores and other retail stores that sell a limited line of food goods including milk, bread, sodas and snack food. The ordinance would not apply to plastic produce bags, nor to plastic bags used in restaurants and cafes for take-out food. Approximately 21 retail stores in the Ventura County unincorporated area would be affected by this ordinance. The greatest concentration of these stores is in the Ojai Valley.

The stated goal is: “The ordinance is intended to reduce litter and other environmental impacts related to single-use carryout plastic bags and provide an incentive for increased use of reusable bags.

To read the entire article, please click on the following link: Ventura County Supervisors Vote to Move Ahead with Bag Ban