Category Archives: Plastic Carryout Bags

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

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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 Bags – Greener Than Alternatives

Plastic BagThe main reason policy makers give for banning plastic carryout bags is because of the litter impact of these bags upon the environment.  Yet, plastic bags comprise at most a miniscule 0.6% of roadside litter;  Whereas, Fast Food litter comprises 29.1% of roadside litter.  Despite the litter impact of plastic carryout bags, plastic bags produce fewer greenhouse gases than paper or cotton bags.  Plastic bags require 70% less energy to manufacture than paper bags.  Plastic bags take less than 4% of the water needed to manufacture paper bags.  Plastic bags generate up to 80% less waste than paper bags.  It takes 7 trucks to deliver paper bags and only 1 truck for the same number of plastic bags.  Furthermore, it takes 91% less energy to recycle a pound of plastic than a pound of paper.

To justify banning plastic grocery bags in favor of paper or reusable bags with their higher environmental footprints, bag ban proponents rely on reusing a bag multiple times in order for its overall environmental impact to be less than a plastic carryout bag on a per use basis.  The concept expressed in Environmental Impact Reports (EIRs) is that because there would be fewer reusable bags in circulation and since each bag is used multiple times that an environmental advantage is achieved over the use of plastic carryout bags.  However, there are some flaws in this concept.

To learn more click on the following link: Plastic Bags – Greener Than Alternatives

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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Ventura City Council Votes To Proceed With Plastic Bag Ban

Ventura City Hall
Ventura City Hall (Photo credit: InSapphoWeTrust)

On 16 December 2013, the Ventura City Council voted 6 to 1 to go ahead and prepare a Single-Use Carryout Bag Ordinance and BEACON EIR addendum for consideration in six months by the City Council.   The council also voted to support the efforts of State Senator Padilla to pass a bill to institute a statewide single-use carryout bag law rather than a local ordinance.

Currently there are two bills going through the California State Legislature concerning plastic carryout bags.  SB-405 is authored by State Senator Padilla and AB-158 by Assembly member Levine.  Both bills appear to have started out with the same text which is being marked up as the bills goes through the different committees in their respective houses.

The full article can be read by clicking the following link: Ventura City Council Votes To Proceed With Plastic Bag Ban Preparation.

Santa Barbara County Supervisors Not Well Served

Official seal of County of Santa Barbara
Official seal of County of Santa Barbara (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At the 15 October 2013 Santa Barbara County Supervisors board meeting, the Santa Barbara County Public works Department, Resource Recovery and Waste Management Division (RRWMD) requested Supervisors to receive and endorse the draft Single-Use Plastic Bag Ban Ordinance for the unincorporated area of Santa Barbara County and to direct staff to initiate review of the Ordinance pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  In addition, Supervisors were requested to designate the County Public Works Department, Resource Recovery and Waste Management Division as the Lead Agency under the CEQA.  Supervisors approved the request by a vote of 3 to 2. Continue reading Santa Barbara County Supervisors Not Well Served

Plastic Bag Recycling Rate – A Non-Issue

Bag Ban Proponents like to point out that the recycling rate for plastic carryout bags is 5% or less and that because of the low recycling rate, plastic carryout bags should be banned.

Bag Ban Proponents totally miss the point.  When plastic carryout bags are reused as trash bags, waste can liners, to pick up pet litter, dispose of kitchen grease, dispose of dirty diapers, or the myriad of other uses and end up in the landfill filled with trash, they cannot be recycled.  Bag Ban Proponents appear to have a particularly difficult time comprehending this simple fact. Continue reading Plastic Bag Recycling Rate – A Non-Issue

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