Category Archives: Economic Costs

Banning Bottled Water – Wrong Solution

English: Bottled water fills an aisle in a sup...
Bottled water fills an aisle in a supermarket (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The movement to ban bottled water sales in favor of using reusable water bottles filled from the tap is still in its infancy compared to the movement to ban plastic carryout bags and to use reusable shopping bags instead. While only one city has banned the sale of bottled water within city limits, many cities have banned the sale of bottled water on city property including city owned buildings and parks. Some National Parks and some but not all Colleges and Universities have also banned the sale of bottled water in single-use single-serving plastic bottles.

In this article, we will examine why banning the sale of bottled water in single-serving single-use plastic bottles is not a smart decision. Despite the glowing rhetoric of using refillable water bottles filled with tap water, this solution is not all that it is cracked up to be. While a ban on bottled water sales is similar to a ban on plastic carryout bags, the major difference is that water is consumed by mouth, where taste, not to mention the perception of health risks, becomes the discriminating factor in whether refillable water bottles with tap water are accepted by the public. But even if accepted by the public, the question of whether banning the sales of bottled water in single-serving single-use containers is the right solution, remains.

To read the complete article, click on the following link: Banning Bottled Water – Wrong Solution

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What Will A Plastic Bag Ban Cost Residents In Your Community

Shopping Bag Ban
Shopping Bag Ban (Photo credit: Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com)

Most communities that have implemented plastic bag bans have generally followed the same prescription. First, plastic carryout bag are banned at checkout, and a minimum fee of 10-cents is charged for each paper bag issued in order to coerce shoppers into bringing their own reusable bags. In addition, most communities but not all, provide an exemption to the paper bag fee for certain low income groups.

Most communities that have passed plastic bag bans have done so without seriously considering the impact upon on community residents. In particular the costs imposed on residents complying with the bag ban. While a few cities have calculated the cost of reusable bags for a typical family, they have largely ignored the value of personal time required for residents to handle reusable bags (such as the effort to put bags into the car, wash bags on a regular basis, dry bags, fold bags, etc.) and the increased cost of water and energy. As a result such estimates are flawed and incomplete.

Cost of Plastic Bag Alternatives

In an article titled “Plastic Bag Alternatives Much More Costly To Consumers” the cost of different bag alternatives is estimated and discussed. This analysis includes bag alternatives such as store supplied plastic bags, store supplied paper bags. Shopper supplied plastic bags, and shopper supplied reusable bags. Furthermore, the analysis includes not only the out-of-pocket costs for bags and also the value of one’s time calculated at $12 per hour required to manage shopper supplied bag options. Continue reading What Will A Plastic Bag Ban Cost Residents In Your Community

Shoppers Reject Using Reusable Bags

Maker Faire 2008 San Mateo 16
City of San Mateo Bags Booth, Maker Faire 2008
Bag usage surveys conducted to date overwhelmingly show that shoppers have rejected using reusable bags and preferred to use paper bags or NO bags at all by a ratio of about two-to-one. While the stated intent of most plastic bag ban ordinances is to shift the majority of shoppers into using reusable bags, and reinforced by imposing minimum fees on paper bags in order to coerce shoppers into using reusable bags, the exact opposite has happened instead. This is not surprising since using reusable bags is not without its own set of problems.

To read more click on the following link: Shoppers Reject Reusable Bags

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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Plastic Bag Bans and California’s Drought

California Condor on the 2005 California State...
California Condor on the 2005 California State quarter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On 17 January 2014, Governor Brown declared a Drought State Of Emergency for California which included a call on Californians to reduce water usage by 20%!  In signing the declaration, Governor Brown stated “We can’t make it rain, but we can be much better prepared for the terrible consequences that California’s drought now threatens, including dramatically less water for our farms and communities and increased fires in both urban and rural areas. … and I’m calling all Californians to conserve water in every way possible.” (Brown, 2014)

Felicia Marcus, chairwoman of the State Water Resources Control Board, stated “This is the most serious drought we’ve faced in modern times” and that we need to conserve the water we have for future use.  Similarly, State Department of Water Resources Director Mark Cowin stated that there simply is not enough water to meet the needs of farmers, communities, and “the conservation efforts intended to save dwindling populations of salmon and other fish throughout Northern California”. (Associated Press, 2014) Continue reading Plastic Bag Bans and California’s Drought

San Jose Bag Ban Doesn’t Make a Dent in Litter

Despite a bag ban for two years in the City of San Jose, litter is still a prevalent problem.  While it is true, fewer retail store plastic carryout bags are observed, litter and unregulated plastic bags is still a very visible problem.  On the website: http://js-politicsandburacracy.blogspot.com/2013/12/san-jose-bag-ban-almost-two-years-later.html one San Jose resident posted photos of litter in San Jose.  This is worthwhile seeing if you think that a plastic carryout bag ban will reduce litter in your area.

Here are two videos of litter in San Jose.  The first is from Tully Road East to Coyote Creek and the second is from Coyote Creek Trailhead Tully Road to Stonegate.

In neighboring Campbell, in which the bag ban will not go into effect until 27 January 2014, there is virtually no plastic bag litter and very little litter.  Photos are shown in the following article: http://js-politicsandburacracy.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2014-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&updated-max=2015-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&max-results=1

This video is taken in Campbell, CA.  Campbell Park and Los Gatos Creek Trail Southbound to San Thomas Expressway.  The entire route is virtually trash free.

This video is taken in Santa Clara, from Scott Blvd southbound to El Camino Real eastbound to Lafayette Street.  This video is proof that Santa Clara despite allowing plastic carryout bags and polystyrene food ware to be used without restriction hardly has any litter and it is nearly impossible to find a improperly disposed of Styrofoam food container let alone a grocery or shopping bag.  In fact not a single plastic shopping  bag was seen floating around in “city” controlled areas.

In contrast, San Jose, despite a two year ban on plastic carryout bags, its streets are just as littered as before the bag ban if not more so.

The fact is that imposing a bag ban to eliminate less than 0.6% of litter is a waste of money and effort, not only the costs incurred by the city but also the millions of dollars that residents must spend to comply with the bag ban.

Carryout Bag Fee Overturned By Voters In Durango, Colorado

Welcome to Historic Durango
Welcome to Historic Durango (Photo credit: Steven Conte)

On November 5, 2013 voters in Durango, Colorado voted to overturn the Carryout Bag Fee Ordinance by a vote of 2,674 to 2087 or 56.16% to 43.84%. 

In August, 2013 the Durango City Council voted 4-1 to adopt an ordinance that places a 10-cent fee on both paper and plastic bags distributed by the city’s three grocers and any other business that chooses to opt-in.  Under the ordinance, the 10-cent fee on paper and plastic carryout bags is collected by the retailer with 50% going to the city.  The funds collected by the city can only be used for environmental projects. (Hurst, 2013)  The fee was intended to encourage shoppers to purchase and use reusable bags instead of paper and plastic disposable carryout bags.  (Slothrower, 2013) Continue reading Carryout Bag Fee Overturned By Voters In Durango, Colorado