Category Archives: Carryout Bag Fees

Plastic Bag Bans – A Community Could Do So Much Better & For So Much Less

Plastic Ocean
Plastic Debris in Ocean (Photo credit: Kevin Krejci)

Litter from fast food waste makes up 29.4% of roadside litter.  Should we ban fast food takeout?  Now, before you answer, plastic grocery bags make up less than 0.6% of all roadside litter and cities all over California are banning plastic grocery bags!  The good news is that fast food takeout is not being banned, but it begs the question “Why are plastic grocery bags singled out when their contribution to litter is miniscule?”

In fact, officials who vote for plastic bag bans cannot even point to a plastic bag litter problem in their own community!  Let alone a problem of sufficient magnitude that would justify a ban.  Litter surveys are rarely ever conducted and when they are, they are conducted in a haphazard manner leading to questionable results.  Decisions to implement bag bans are usually based on anecdotal evidence, questionable at best, offered by environmental groups such as showing pictures of a few plastic bags littered around town, in the river bed, and pictures of a turtle chewing on a plastic bag.

Everything that man uses is littered.  Ever see a discarded candy wrapper, a paper bag, a milk carton, a mattress, a sofa, or a tire on the side of the road?  Life would be tough if we ban everything that is littered, including plastic grocery bags.  Despite the lack of evidence that plastic bag litter is a significant problem, let’s assume it is and look at more cost effective and appropriate methods of dealing with that litter, methods that would be beneficial to the community.

To read the entire article click on the following link:  Plastic Bag Bans – A Community Could Do So Much Better & For So Much Less

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Plastic Bag Ban – Paper Bag Fees Unequally Levied

New Horseshoe Checkstands
New Horseshoe Checkstands (Photo credit: SaCaSeA)

Currently, retail stores distribute plastic and paper bags to customers at checkout to carry their purchases home at no additional charge.  The cost of these bags is included in retail prices paid for and shared by all customers.

Customers who choose to use no bags or reusable bags still pay a small portion toward paper and plastic bags, even when they choose not to receive such bags.  However, some stores do credit customers for every reusable bag used.

 A bag ban imposes a minimum fee of 10-cents for each paper bag distributed in order to discourage paper bag use and also creates an exemption to that fee for those who participate in the California Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) or in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) also known as the Food Stamp program.

In other words, the ordinance creates two classes of shoppers regarding paper bag fees, non-exempt and exempt: Non-exempt shoppers, pay a fee for each paper bag received; Exempt shoppers, receive paper bags free of charge. Continue reading Plastic Bag Ban – Paper Bag Fees Unequally Levied

Lake Tahoe Passes Bag Ban With A Twist

Highway 50 through South Lake Tahoe
Highway 50 through South Lake Tahoe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On 1 October, 2013 the Lake Tahoe City Council voted 3-2 to ban “single-use” plastic bags distributed at the check stand for customers to carry purchases home.  Councilmembers Hal Cole, Angela Swanson, and Brooke Laine voted for the ban and Mayor Tom Davis and councilmember JoAnn Conner voted against the ban.  What makes this plastic carryout bag ban ordinance different from others is that is does not mandate a fee for paper bags; does not require retail stores to keep records and report to the city on the number of paper bags distributed and fees collected; and does not implement an enforcement mechanism by the city.  The council decided that it is up to the retailer to decide if he wants to charge a fee for paper bags or recover the cost of paper bags through higher retail prices.

To read the entire article, click on the following link: Lake Tahoe Passes Bag Ban With A Twist

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Using Reusable Bags: It’s Not That Easy

English: ENVITOTE’s superior design is a styli...

One of the most often heard claims by those who advocate imposing bag bans on everyone else, is that using reusable bags is not very hard to do.  Here are a few of their typical statements:

  • “I’ve happily been using reusable bags for years, so others should too.”
  • “What’s the big deal about remembering to bring your bag?”
  • “Some people will resist it at first, but eventually they will change and get used to it.”
  • “Sometimes it is hard to change habits, but people will change.  They just need encouragement.”
  • “Look!  I carry a few compacted reusable bags right on my purse strap!”
  • “It is easy! It isn’t so hard!”

These statements are often delivered in an exasperated or condescending tone, implying that people are making a big deal out of nothing.  The real basis for their argument is this: They do it, so others should not complain when they are forced to do it as well.

Setting aside the argument about whether or not it is right to force others to adopt an assumed green lifestyle, we wanted to examine why using reusable bags is challenging and why compliance with using reusable bags is so low, even in communities that have already implemented bag bans.  

Statistics

Surveys at grocery stores before and after bag bans show that most people are choosing not to use reusable bags.  In San Jose, the number of customers leaving grocery stores with no bag went up from 12.9% to 43.5% and the number of customers using paper bags went up from 10.3% to 18.8% after the bag ban. (Romanov, 2012)  Similarly, in Santa Monica customers with no bag went up from 15% to 36% and paper bags went up from 5% to 29%. (Team Marine, 2013)  The statistics for non-grocery stores are even worse, with an abysmal 8% of shoppers using reusable bags almost 2 years after the bag ban. (van Leeuwen & Williams, 2013, p. 12)

Using reusable bags must not be that easy, since the vast majority of shoppers avoid using these bags and choose to use either paper bags or no bags at all over reusable bags by a ratio of about two to one. (van Leeuwen & Williams, 2013)

To read the rest of the article, click on the following link: Using Reusable Bags Not That Easy

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Stop Statewide Plastic Bag Ban – Contact Your Legislator

Sacramento_Capitol_BuildingCalifornia State Legislators are at it again.  Although past efforts to pass a plastic grocery bag ban by the state legislature have failed, it may be different this time.  AB 158 and SB 405 are going through the legislature.  We urge you to contact your state legislators in the California Senate and Assembly.  Let them know you oppose a statewide plastic bag ban.

Click on the following link: Find Your California Representative

Some Talking Points Follow:

Plastic bag litter (all sorts of plastic bags) comprise only 0.6% or roadside litter.  In comparison, fast food litter is 29.1% of roadside litter.  A plastic bag ban will at most eliminate 0.6% of roadside litter leaving the other 99.4% waiting to be picked up.  A plastic bag ban will not reduce litter and make for a cleaner city.

AB 158 and SB 405 is not equally applied to all residents.  AB 158 and SB 405 creates two different classes of shoppers, one class that is able to receive free paper bags and another class that is required to pay for paper bags.  AB 158 and SB 405 creates a new welfare benefit for WIC and SNAP participants.  The benefit is provided at the expense of shoppers who pay for paper bags or at the expense of the retailer who will pass the cost of free paper bags on to all shoppers. 

The indirect cost of plastic shopping bags for a family of four is less than $20 per year.  The cost of paper bags at 10-cents each is about $78.00 per year.  The cost of reusable bags is about $250 per year when you include both out of pocket expenses and the cost of a person’s time in handle bags including the time required to wash reusable bags.

Plastic bag bans end up with cutting down more trees for paper bags and actually increase the amount of plastic, paper, and reusable bags ending up in the landfill.  In fact, a bag ban increases the amount of material (plastic, paper, and reusable bags) headed for the landfill by as much as factor of four.

Furthermore, based on plastic bag ban results in Santa Monica and San Jose, shoppers rejected reusable bags by choosing paper bags or no bags over reusable bags by a ratio of two-to-one.  Clearly, using reusable bags is the wrong solution.

Paper Bag Fee Setting A Bad Precedent

California_State_Capitol_Building256The paper bag fee sets a dangerous and illogical precedent.  Paper bags from the paper aisle are taxed at the check stand, but paper carryout bags purchased at the check stand to hold your groceries are not taxable.  Furthermore, the fee paid for paper carryout bags subsidizes the free paper bags provided to certain low income groups, providing a powerful argument that the fee is a tax instead.  So far court rulings have stated that the paper bag fee is not a tax since the fees are retained and used by a private party.  Under current court rulings, a state or local government jurisdiction can enact a statute or ordinance which requires payment of fees to a private party and then dictate how the moneys are spent by the private party and as long as no monies are remitted to the state or local jurisdiction then the scheme completely bypasses constitutional tax limitations and constitutional protection of citizens from a continual barrage of new taxes and fees.

To read the entire article click on the link: Paper Bag Fee Setting A Bad Precedent

 

Huntington Beach – Bag Ban Repeal Effort Begins

Huntington Beach CA USAA real estate agent, Frank LoGrasso, a 28-year resident of Huntington Beach, is spearheading the attempt to overturn the city’s ban on plastic bags and fee on paper bags.  LoGrasso is a proponent of the free market and views the local ordinance as an unwanted intrusion by the local government particularly when the ordinance dictates how a business is to treat their customers.  Lo Grasso has no problem with stores charging a fee for paper bags, but he believes that the ordinance fixes the price and takes competition out of it.  (Carpio, 2013)

To overturn the local ordinance, Lo Grasso and supporters will have to collect signatures from 10% of the registered voters in Huntington Beach for a total of 10,940 valid signatures.  To ensure that enough signatures qualify an attempt will be made to collect 15,000 signatures. (Carpio, 2013) Continue reading Huntington Beach – Bag Ban Repeal Effort Begins

Bag Bans: Defrauding the Public of Reasonable Alternative Solutions

Environmental Impact Reports (EIRs) document the environmental impact of a specific project including alternatives.  In the case of EIRs supporting Single-Use Carryout Bag Ordinances a specific solution to a plastic bag litter problem is proposed that requires a ban on plastic carryout bags and imposes a fee on paper bags in order to encourage (i.e. coerce) shoppers into using reusable bags.  The environmental analysis to support this proposed solution is never provided.  For example, if plastic carryout bags are bad and should be eliminated, then an analysis should be provided to show that using paper bags instead of plastic bags results in an environmental impact that requires mitigation by reducing the use of paper bags and using an alternative product.  That analysis is never performed or provided.  In fact, the objectives of the EIR specifically prevent that analysis and alternative from ever being analyzed.  If brought up during the public comment period, the response is that it does not meet the objectives.  In other words the objectives are cleverly used to defraud the public of an important analysis and a legitimate alternative solution.  Instead of impartially evaluating alternative solutions, someone else’s pre-conceived solution is shoved down your throat by misguided public officials.

To read more of this controversial article click on the following link: Bag Bans Defrauding The Public Of Reasonable Alternative Solutions.

California Landfills Impacted By Bag Bans

 

English: Toyon landfill inside Griffith Park, ...
English: Toyon landfill inside Griffith Park, Los Angeles, California, before the May 2007 fire. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Single-Use Carryout Bag Ordinance has a detrimental impact on landfills that has not been clearly identified.  While the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) identifies that plastic carryout bags currently end up in the landfill, unbeknownst to proponents of the ordinance is that the amount of material deposited in the landfill after the ban has been implemented is far greater than before the ban.  Landfill impacts for both the State of California and for Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties are presented in Tables 1 and 2 respectively.  While landfills can absorb the additional material with no problem, an unintended consequence of the single-use carryout bag ordinance, it is California’s Zero Waste Goal that suffers a setback that will have to be made up through other waste reductions!

To read more click on the following link: California Landfills Impacted By Bag Bans.  This article is an update of the article previously released and titled “Fact Sheet – Landfill Impacts” originally released 16 April 2013.  The new article includes the California statewide impacts in addition to the impacts to Santa Barbara and Ventura County landfills.

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Issaquah Ballot Title Successfully Challenged

City Hall, Issaquah, Washington.
City Hall, Issaquah, Washington. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In a petition filed on November 15, Mr. Craig Keller of Save Our Choice, challenged the ballot title that the City Council approved on October 21 for the newly qualified citizen’s initiative to “REPEAL of Plastic Bag Ban and Forced Bag Charge”.  The citizen’s initiative is on the February 11, 2014 ballot.  Save Our Choice objected to certain wording in the ballot title and description because they were ambiguous or were words of advocacy that could generate voter prejudice during balloting on the citizen’s initiative ordinance. Continue reading Issaquah Ballot Title Successfully Challenged