Category Archives: Litter Issues

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

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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

Bag Bans – A Waste of Time and Money!

Redwoods Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
Redwoods Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park – by Miguel Vieira, Walnut Creek

Most plastic bag bans follow the simple formula of banning plastic grocery bags and placing a fee on paper bags in order to force shoppers to bring and use their own reusable bags. A bag ban is justified because littered plastic grocery bags are unsightly litter that can cause harm to wildlife through ingestion. However, absent from the discussion are three key issues: (1) the magnitude of plastic grocery bag litter; (2) the cost to consumers to comply with a bag ban; and (3) the impact on reducing litter, particularly plastic debris, that finds its way to the ocean and potentially causes harm to wildlife through ingestion.

When these issues are honestly looked at we discover that plastic bag litter is negligible and the cost to consumers is disproportionate to the results achieved. For example, plastic bag litter comprises only 0.6% of roadside litter of which about only half (about 0.3%) is plastic grocery bags. Hence, a plastic bag ban will still leave 99.7% of litter that must be cleaned up through traditional litter abatement methods. The effort to clean up the remaining 99.7% of litter could easily include the other 0.3% (e.g. plastic grocery bags and retail carryout bags) as part of the total effort. In other words, a plastic bag ban is not needed and certainly NOT JUSTIFIED for the small amount of plastic grocery bags littered in the community.

Furthermore, the cost to consumers to eliminate plastic grocery bags from roadside litter averages about 12-cents for each 2-cent plastic bag eliminated by a bag ban. Add to that the cost of plastic bag bans by local and state governments and costs incurred by retailers increasing the total cost far more than the 12-cents cost per plastic bag incurred by consumers! If you compute the annual cost per littered bag, it will be on the order of $250.00 per littered plastic bag per year. Obviously, this is NOT a good deal for consumers! So not only is a plastic bag ban a waste of time and money for the public; it is also a waste of time and money on the part of the environmentalist who promotes bag bans for such a miniscule reduction in litter, when traditional comprehensive litter abatement methods exist that will not only eliminate all plastic bags but also other plastic debris that makes its way to the ocean potentially harming wildlife.

To read the entire article, click on the following link: Bag Bans Waste of Time & Money

Are Plastic Grocery Bags Falsely Labeled as “Single-Use” Bags?

Hemdchentuete
By Phrontis [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Bag Banners have long demonized disposable plastic grocery bags by labeling them as “single-use” plastic carryout bags that, they claim, are only used only a few minutes to carry your groceries home. These claims disputed by citizens who understand that plastic grocery bags are not single-use bags but are reused by consumers for a variety of other purposes. While Bag Banners and public officials only half-heartedly acknowledged such reuse, they steadfastly refused to consider the environmental benefits that such reuse creates. The question “Are Plastic Grocery Bags Falsely Labeled as ‘Single-Use’ Bags?” is an important question that will be examined from several perspectives in this paper. In addition, paper grocery bags and also the newly mandated thicker plastic grocery bags will be examined including the terminology used to describe these bags. We intend to expose the blatant falsehood behind labeling a shopping bag as either single-use or reusable.

Plastic T-Shirt Bags (aka Plastic Grocery Bags)

Plastic grocery bags with handles are actually named “Plastic T-shirt Bags” and come in a variety of sizes, colors, and custom printed logos. They are a time saving convenience for both the retailer and the customer and which offers the retailer a marketing opportunity to advertise their business. For customers, they are not only convenient, clean, and safe, but they also serve a multitude of other uses after transporting their purchases home. So how did these safe, clean, convenient and reused plastic “T-shirt bags” get relabeled as “Single-Use Plastic Carryout Bags” in city, county, and state laws?

To read more click on the following link: Are Plastic Grocery Bags Falsely Labeled as Single-Use Bags

Huntington Beach Plastic Bag Ban Repeal Passes Final Hurdle

A Sunny Day on Huntington Beach
A Sunny Day on Huntington Beach

On Monday, 4 May, 2015 the Huntington Beach City Council voted 6 to 1 to finalize the repeal of the two year old ban on plastic bags and the mandatory 10-cent fee on paper bags. The repeal is effective on 3 June, 2015 when stores can again issue plastic carryout bags. (Carpio, 2015)

Council-members Mike Posey, Erik Peterson, Billy O’Connell, Barbara Delgleize, Dave Sullivan, and Jim Katapodis voted to finalize repeal the ordinance and Mayor Jill Hardy voted to keep the ban in place. (van Leeuwen, 2015)

According to Council-member Mike Posey, the plastic bag ban was never an environmental issue, but an issue of personal freedom. (Sharon, 2015)

After the Council Meeting, Mike Posey told conservative website Breitbart, “It’s a freedom issue. . . . Litter from plastic bags is caused by misuse and not use, and I object to punishing everyone because some people choose to litter.” (Broder, 2015) Continue reading Huntington Beach Plastic Bag Ban Repeal Passes Final Hurdle

Arizona Governor Signs Bill to Prohibit Plastic Bag Bans

Phoenix-Arizona_State_CapitalOn April 13, 2015 Arizona’s Governor Ducey signed Senate Bill 1241 that would prohibit cities, towns, and counties from passing ordinances that ban or tax the use of plastic shopping bags, Styrofoam and other containers. (Gardiner, 2015) (Rau, 2015)

The bill’s author, Rep. Warren Peterson, R-Gilbert, cited concerns that plastic bag bans and similar regulations raise costs and create a regulatory nightmare for businesses. He stated that he is concerned about economic freedom and that he supports the right of individuals to make their own decisions. (Gardiner, 2015)

Cities and counties across the country have passed legislation to ban the use of plastic carryout bags. Bag Ban Proponents and environmental advocates claim that plastic bags are a major litter item; they needlessly contribute to landfills, generate greenhouse gas emissions, and clog recycling machinery. Readers of this blog, will know that plastic carryout bags are a minor litter item (See article: San Jose Litter Surveys Examined – Plastic Bag Ban Completely Unjustified ), contribute much less material to landfills that paper and reusable bags (See article: California Landfills Impacted By Bag Bans), generate smaller amounts of greenhouse gas emissions than paper and reusable bags (see article: Plastic Bags – Greener Than Alternatives).

The problem with clogging recycling machinery is real, but what bag banners do not tell you, is that banning plastic grocery (or carryout) bags will not prevent all jams of sorting machinery at recycling facilities or expensive breakdowns. The sorting equipment at these facilities are being jammed not only by plastic carryout bags, but by all sorts of plastic bags (newspaper bags, produce bags, frozen food bags) and plastic wrap (wrap from toilet paper, bottled beverages, bottled water, packaged products), and from all sorts of materials (blankets, hoses, ropes or other strapping materials) which are all responsible for jamming sorting machinery. (Terry, 2007)

Educating the public that plastic bags and wraps and other prohibited materials may not be put in the curbside recycling bin would be a much better solution to the problem. Furthermore, the public needs to be educated about bringing unused and clean plastic bags and wraps to the retail stores’ In-Store Recycling Bin for recycling vice the curbside recycle bin.

Bibliography

Gardiner, D. (2015, March 28 ). Arizona bill would block bans on plastic bags. Retrieved from The Republic: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/arizona/politics/2015/04/14/ducey-signs-travel-plastic-bag-bills/25752817/

Rau, A. B. (2015, April 13). Ducey signs travel-ID, plastic-bag bills. Retrieved from The Republic: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/arizona/politics/2015/03/27/arizona-bill-block-bans-plastic-bags/70529702/

Terry, B. (2007, October 8). Recycling Part 2: Lessons from the Davis Street Transfer Center – See more at: http://myplasticfreelife.com/2007/10/recycling-part-2-lessons-from-davis/#sthash.ojyGOAe8.dpuf. Retrieved from My Plastic Free Life: http://myplasticfreelife.com/2007/10/recycling-part-2-lessons-from-davis/

 

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