Tag Archives: California State Legislature

The Nonsense of Plastic Straw Laws!

Introduction

Horia Varlan from Bucharest, Romania via Wikimedia Commons

On 20 September 2018, Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill (AB) 1881 “Food Facilities: Single Use Plastic Straws” into law. The law becomes effective on 1 January 2019 and will prevent full-service restaurants from providing a plastic straw unless the customer specifically requests one.

Before we examine the impact of California’s new AB 1881 plastic straw law, let’s take a look at some of the environmental claims made by proponents of the plastic straw laws.

Claims by Environmental Community

The Environmental Community has made a number of outrageous claims about plastic straws:

• 500 million straws used per day In the United States.
• Plastic Straws are one of the top 10 items collected in Ocean Cleanups.
• Straws are made from natural resources such as oil, natural gas, and coal which cannot be replaced once depleted.
• Straws are only used for an average of 20 minutes before being discarded.
• Media cites inaccurate statistic on plastic straw weight.
• Plastic straws harm the environment and marine wildlife.

500 million straws used per day in the United States?

“How many plastic straws do Americans use every day?” was a question asked by 9-year old Milo Cress. He started a project called “Be Straw Free” and called a handful of straw manufacturers in the United States to get estimates of how many straws are used per day. Through his research he estimated that Americans use about 500 million straws daily.
While Cress has received criticism, particularly for his 500 million statistic, the “Be Straw Free” movement started when he was at a restaurant with a friend and noticed other people taking the straws out of their drink without ever using them. He considered this a waste. He talked to the local restaurant and asked them to adopt a policy to “offer first.” It turned out to save money and make people more aware of the plastic they use.

The environmental movement has adopted 9-year old Milo Cress’s estimate of 500 million straws per day. No independent study was conducted to corroborate this estimate. For the environmental community, the bigger the number, even if not correct, the greater the “perceived” negative impact on the environment by the public. While the environmental community and the news media for the most part accept the estimate, there is some confusion and some contrary estimates.

In an article, author Tracey Bailey, claims “Over 500 million straws are used daily worldwide for an average of 20 minutes before being discarded.” [Bold mine] So which is it? 500 million per day in the United States only or is it 500 million per day worldwide?

A foodservice disposables research firm, Technomic, estimated that in 2017 approximately 63 billion straws were used in the United States per year in the food service industry, which includes restaurants, coffee shops, fast food chains, convenience stores, and cafeterias in hospitals, nursing homes and schools. That is about 170-175 million straws per day. If you divide 63 billion straws per year by 365 days, you get 172.6 million per day.

Another market research firm, Freedonia Group, estimated that the nation used about 390 million straws per day or 142 billion straws per year.

The Foodservice Packaging Institute, an 85-year-old trade association, estimates that fewer than 250 million straws are used each day.

Let’s face it, NO one knows how many straws are used in the United States per day or per year. The estimates are all over the place.

To read the entire article, click on the following link: 

 

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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

Why California City Councils Must Not Pass Bag Bans with a Statewide Vote Pending

Redwood_National_Park,_fog_in_the_forest
California Redwood National Park – By Michael Schweppe
The implementation of plastic bag bans (and paper bag fees) in California has been promoted and pushed by well-organized and well-funded special interest groups working through local politicians, ultimately enacting over 100 local ordinances and subjecting about 33% of the state’s population to bag bans. (White, 2014)

Eventually, after years of failed attempts to pass a statewide bag ban, these organizations were able to leverage local bag bans along with some arm twisting until the California legislature succumbed and passed a statewide bag ban. (Williams & van Leeuwen, 2015) However, when the statewide bag ban was signed into law by Governor Brown, the American Progressive Bag Alliance (APBA) successfully challenged the law through a referendum by collecting 809,810 signatures of registered California voters (with 598,684 valid signatures and 93,924 over and above the quantity needed). This means the statewide law will be on hold until it can be approved or rejected by the people of California in the November, 2016 statewide election. (Fight The Plastic Bag Ban, 2015) Continue reading Why California City Councils Must Not Pass Bag Bans with a Statewide Vote Pending

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

California Legislature Passes Statewide Bag Ban Bill

California State Capital in Sacramento
California State Capital in Sacramento (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Friday, 29 August, 2014 the California State Legislature passed a statewide plastic bag ban in passing SB-270. SB-270 now goes to Governor Jerry Brown for his signature. Governor Brown has until 30 September 2014 to act on the measure. Governor Brown has not indicated support for or opposition to the measure.

If the measure becomes law, shoppers will have to bring their own carryout bags, purchase and use reusable bags, or purchase a paper or thick plastic “reusable” bag for 10-cents each. The law becomes effective on 1 July 2015 for most grocery stores and 1 July 2016 for convenience stores.

NOTE: The key provisions of SB-270 are outlined below. These key provisions are taken from the language of SB-270 as much as possible but have been changed and modified for clarity and readability. Readers are referred to the actual legislation at: SB-270 (Padilla). Continue reading California Legislature Passes Statewide Bag Ban Bill

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.

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.