Category Archives: Uncategorized

Chicago Bag Ban – A Customer Friendly Bag Ban

Chicago-City-Hall-Green-Roof
Chicago City Hall Green Rooftop Garden by Conservation Design Forum (Creative Commons via Wikimedia Commons)

Chicago’s Plastic Bag Ban is truly a unique ordinance. While the ordinance contains features found in many other bag bans across the nation, some features such as a mandatory minimum fee for store provided paper and plastic reusable bags is not included. The ordinance can therefore be said to be customer friendly.

The ordinance was passed by the City Council in 2014 and took effect on 1 August 2015 for stores with a floor area 10,000 square feet or more and 1 August 2016 for stores less than 10,000 square feet. The ban is applicable to chain stores “that sell perishable or non-perishable goods, including, but not limited to clothing, food, and personal items” where “chain store” is defined as “three or more stores having common ownership or any store, regardless of ownership, that is part of a franchise”. The ordinance is not applicable to dine in or take out restaurants or any store that is not defined as a “chain” store. (City of Chicago, 2014)

Because the bag ban exempts any store that is not a chain store, as defined in the ordinance, one could conclude that the ordinance is also small business friendly. For example, a neighborhood mom & pop grocery store or a fabric store could continue providing their customers with thin-film plastic carryout bags.

Stores subject to the bag ban ordinance must “provide reusable bags, recyclable paper bags, or commercially compostable plastic bags, or any combination thereof, to customers for the purpose of enabling the customer to carry away goods from the point of sale”. (City of Chicago, 2014)

The bag ban does not specifically impose a bag fee nor prohibits stores from imposing a fee for store-provided paper and reusable bags.

According to the article “Six months in, Chicago’s plastic bag ban a mixed bag” by Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz, a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, some stores are charging a 10-cent fee for store provided bags but most of the large grocers are giving away thicker plastic bags in place of the flimsy “T-Shirt” carryout bags. (Elejalde-Ruiz, 2016)

In a commentary published in the Chicago Tribune titled “Chicago’s misguided plastic bag ban” the author Erik Telford makes the statement that the bag ban is a “poorly designed policy gone awry” and that “the city took a half-hearted approach to regulating plastic bag use”. The author also points out that bag ban advocates want the city to add a mandatory minimum fee for store provided paper and reusable bags and one of the city’s aldermen even wants to increase the thickness of plastic reusable bags so that stores have no choice but to charge customers for them. In addition, the author’s summary paragraph says it all: Chicago’s ill-conceived plastic bag ban is the latest reminder of the dangers inherent in big government programs. New regulations almost always have unforeseen consequences. Advocating for behavior change through force of law can easily end up leaving a city worse off than it was before. (Telford, 2016)

 

Bibliography

City of Chicago. (2014, December 22). Plastic Bag Ban Will Take Effect on August 1, 2015. Retrieved from City of Chicago: http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/bacp/environmentdocs/articlexxiii_retailbaguse.pdf

Elejalde-Ruiz, A. (2016, February 1). Six months in, Chicago’s plastic bag ban a mixed bag. Retrieved from Chicago Tribune: http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-plastic-bag-ban-0131-biz-20160129-story.html

Telford, E. (2016, February 25). Commentary: Chicago’s misguided plastic bag ban. Retrieved from Chicago Tribune: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/commentary/ct-plastic-bag-ban-reusable-environment-perspec-0225-20160224-story.html

 

Referendum Challenges Milpitas Bag Ban

Milpitas City Hall - Photo by By Dmitriy Grigoryev (2005) via Wikimedia Commons
Milpitas City Hall – Photo by By Dmitriy Grigoryev (2005) via Wikimedia Commons

Despite calls for patience ahead of the November 2016 California Bag Ban vote, and complaints from local business that it costs them up to $2 per paper bag to track paper bag sales, the Milpitas City Council reversed its previous City Council vote and implemented a bag ban to begin January 1, 2016. Since the previous vote in November, 2013, two of the City Council members had termed out, and the new city council members went along with the Mayor Esteves to impose a bag ban on the people without a vote. The City Council also scheduled the vote on a night that the lone remaining dissenter, Council Member Giordano, was absent.

The citizen’s group “Stop the Bag Ban” has launched a referendum petition to force the bag ban to a vote of the people. Continue reading Referendum Challenges Milpitas Bag Ban

A Case for the Repeal of Bag Bans

English: , San Diego, California
English: San Diego, California (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Efforts to reduce the use of plastic grocery bags began in California with a voluntary program that encouraged shoppers to use reusable bags for bringing their groceries home. While a few shoppers complied with the program, most shoppers did not and continued to use plastic grocery bags. Bag Banners were not satisfied with these results and blamed shoppers for being “resistant to change”. They were not happy that shoppers were able to make their own choice about what kind of shopping bag to use.

Bag Banners, instead of recognizing that shoppers rejected using reusable bags and that a different solution was required, doubled down and embarked on mandatory programs to ban plastic bags. These mandatory programs not only banned plastic bags but a placed a fee on paper bags in order to coerce shoppers to use reusable bags.

Bag Banners began to push the state legislature and local jurisdictions to ban plastic carryout bags and impose a mandatory minimum fee on paper bags. Many local jurisdictions passed mandatory plastic bag ban programs most of which banned plastic bags from grocery and convenience stores only; thereby only reducing the quantity of plastic carryout bags in circulation. Eventually, in 2014 a statewide mandatory program was passed and signed into law. Continue reading A Case for the Repeal of Bag Bans

California Legislature Fails Citizens with Draconian Bag Ban

A few volumes of the journals of each house (A...
Not all laws passed by the California legislature are in the public interest. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The California Legislature has once again failed the people of California, this time by passing a draconian plastic bag ban i.e. SB-270). This legislation would ban the distribution of thin-film plastic carryout bags by grocery and convenience stores and impose a minimum fee of 10-cents per store provided paper or reusable bag. The intent of the fee is to change shopper behavior by using a punitive financial incentive to coerce shoppers into bringing and using their own reusable bags. The legislature could have passed a much simpler solution that would have received a much greater and widespread public support and would not have involved changing shopper behavior or imposing bag fees while at the same time solving the plastic bag litter problem. Continue reading California Legislature Fails Citizens with Draconian Bag Ban

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

Plastic Bags In Landfill – Not A Problem

Modern landfill operation at Waimanalo Gulch, ...
Modern landfill operation at Waimanalo Gulch, the municipal sanitary landfill for the City & County of Honolulu. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You hear it over and over again, “plastic bags do not decompose and will last a thousand years in a landfill” and “they will be here long after I am gone!”  A Google web search will show hundreds of articles with the same theme and in all cases the writers attempt to convey how bad this is and why we should ban plastic carryout bags.  Look at what some say:

  • Plastic bags are not biodegradable … and end up in landfills where they may take 1,000 years or more to break down into ever smaller particles that continue to pollute the soil and water. (West)
  • A plastic carrier bag will take up to 1000 years to break down once it is in the landfill.  Compare that to its useful life which can be measured in minutes – the length of time it takes to get our shopping home from the store before being dumped in the dustbin. (Green)
  • Plastic bags also have a hard time decomposing; estimates range from ten to twenty years when exposed to air to 500–1,000 years in a landfill. (Cadman)

But what do these writers NOT tell you?  They don’t tell you that the raw materials, oil and natural gas, from whose byproducts plastic carryout bags are made, were in the ground for thousands if not millions of years.  So all that we are doing is putting back into the ground what we extracted from it in the first place, but we put it back in a different and more stable form.

To read the entire article, click on the following link: Plastic Bags In Landfill – Not a Problem

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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

Current List Of Articles Posted

The following is a current list of articles posted.  The articles are located under the “Documents” menu item.  You can click on the link to proceed directly to the articles.  All articles are published using Adobe Acrobat.  You are free to save the article to your own computer and print the article.

Be sure to click on the button to follow the  blog in the right column and enter your email address.  You will be notified of new postings when they occur.   A number of articles will be posted next month and you will not want to miss them!

Shoppers Reject Reusable Bags – This article explains that shoppers reject using reusable bags about two-to-one.

Plastic Bag Bans and Californias Drought – This article explains why plastic bag bans and the use of reusable bags is the wrong solution in areas where droughts are frequent.

Plastic Bag Bans – A Community Could Do So Much Better & For So Much Less – This article identifies traditional litter control and removal measures that would be more effective than a plastic bag ban and cost local jurisdictions and their residents much less.

Bag Bans and Obamacare – Cut From the Same Cloth – This article compares plastic bag bans with Obamacare and shows that there is a lot in common and that both come from the same type of political mindset.

Lake Tahoe Passes Bag Ban With A Twist – This article looks at the plastic bag ban that was passed in Lake Tahoe and how that bag ban is different.

Plastic Bags In Landfill – Not a Problem – This article debunks the concern that many have about plastic bags in landfills.

Bag Bans – Trading One Problem For Another – This article looks at how a plastic bag litter problem that did not affect you in your personal life becomes an “in your face” problem you have to deal with each time you shop.

Using Reusable Bags Not That Easy – This article looks at the challenges families face when using reusable bags and that despite bag banners saying that using reusable bags is easy it turns out not to be that easy but an inconvenience to be avoided.

Plastic Bags – Greener Than Alternatives – This is an article that looks at all of the environmental impact categories to show that plastic bags are better than the alternatives for the environment.

Paper Bag Fee Setting A Bad Precedent – This is an article that looks at tax issues around the paper bag fee including sales tax issues and court rulings regarding the paper bag fee as an end around California’s Proposition 26.

How To Fight Back Against Bag Bans – This is a new article that answers the difficult question of what can we do to fight back against plastic bag bans.  And provides a number of suggested actions.

Bag Bans Defrauding The Public Of Reasonable Alternative Solutions – This controversial article looks at how the public is defrauded from more reasonable solutions to the windblown litter problem presented by thin film plastic carryout bags and how someone else’s solution is being shoved down the throats of the American Public.

California Landfills Impacted By Bag Bans – This article is an update of the article previously titled “Fact Sheet Landfill Impacts LASBVTA“.  The article now looks at the impacts to landfills across the State of California along with Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties.

Ventura City Council Votes To Proceed With Plastic Bag Ban Preparation – This article discusses the City Council decision to move ahead with the ground work required for a plastic bag ban and the agenda item prepared for the City Council.

Santa Barbara County Supervisors Not Well Served – This article discusses erroneous and misleading information about bag bans and associated issues in a viewgraph presentation made to the Santa Barbara County Supervisors.

Plastic Bag Recycling Rate – A Non-Issue – This article exposes the truth about the 5% plastic bag recycling rate and why that recycling rate is so low and why the low recycling rate is not a reason to ban plastic carryout bags. Continue reading Current List Of Articles Posted

Bag Bans: A Failure – Not Success As Claimed

As more and more communities pass ordinances to ban plastic carryout bags, a key question remains: Are these bag bans successful?  Proponents of bag bans are quick to point out that once the bags are banned, fewer plastic bags will be found as litter in the environment.  Of course, that is true.  If the use of plastic carryout bags is sharply reduced by a bag ban then the quantity of plastic carryout bags found as litter will be similarly reduced and reflected in litter surveys.  But does that single measurement signify the success of the ban?  Or are there other factors that must be considered before a bag ban can be declared a success?  In this paper we will look at this question and attempt to provide a reasonable answer.

To read more please click on the following link: Bag Bans: A Failure – Not Success As Claimed.

New Article Posted: “Reusable Bags and Ergonomic Issues”

A new article has been posted titled “Reusable Bags and Ergonomic Issues” by Anthony van Leeuwen.

The article provides some useful information about reusable bag sizes, volume, and average weight when filled. Consumers should educate themselves about bag sizes and weights when filled, to avoid wasting money by buying bags that are too large and heavy when filled by store employees.

With more and more communities in California and the nation adopting plastic carryout bag bans ergonomic safety issues related to using reusable bags have been largely ignored.  The chief selling point often touted by proponents is that “Reusable bags hold more than plastic bags”.  What is often overlooked is that “If reusable bags hold more, they weigh more.”  This means that handling of heavier reusable bags by both store employees and customers alike, present ergonomic safety hazards that should be taken into consideration.