The 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.
A 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→
The movement to ban plastic carryout bags is growing as more and more California communities enact single-use bag ordinances. These ordinances are very similar to one another and go beyond banning plastic carryout bags to implementing a very specific solution. This solution attempts to change the shopping paradigm where shoppers supply their own reusable bags rather than receive store supplied disposable bags to carry their purchases. To ensure that consumer behavior is changed, retailers are required by the local ordinance to charge a minimum fee for each paper bag issued.
By implementing a specific solution, mandated by the government, innovation is stifled and businesses are no longer free to pursue alternative solutions that are in their best interests. Government officials and their staffs simply do not have the expertise and time to investigate alternative solutions to solve the underlying problem or have the motivation to improve retailer customer service, therefore the government mandated solution locks an inadequate and antiquated solution into place. Furthermore, freedom of choice on both the part of retailers and consumers is unnecessarily sacrificed, restricted, and infringed.
On 27 August 2012, the Homer City Council voted 4-2 to pass an ordinance to ban plastic bags. Subsequently, on September 7, 2012 Mayor James C. Hornaday vetoed the ordinance. The bag ban was intended to reduce litter and retailers are prohibited from distributing plastic carryout bags at the checkout counter. The ban excludes thicker plastic shopping bags, trash bags, bags for prescription drugs, and bags used to package bulk foods and newspaper bags. (Alaska Dispatch, 2012) Paper bags are not banned nor is there a fee on paper bags. Councilman David Lewis stated that he hoped people would bring reusable bags. One of the complaints was that plastic bags are so light they blow away at the dump. (Dubois, 2012) The council subsequently voted 4-2 to override the mayoral veto. The ordinance banned the use of plastic bags effective January 1st 2013. (Alaska Pride, 2013)
A group of citizens in Homer hoped to overturn the plastic bag ban. Justin Arnold, Dan Gardner, and Marlina Hogdon filed paper work with the city clerk to circulate a petition for 90 days. They were required to get 230 signatures in order to place the issue on the ballot. Justin Arnold stated there are many reasons why he wants to overturn the ban, the main reason is to give citizens a chance to vote on the matter. Radio talk show host Chris Story also took up the band-wagon when he said the city council is not here to protect the environment but to conduct city business on behalf of city residents. He also stated that the council spends too much time “changing your behavior in alignment with a larger agenda.” The measure is on the 1 October 2013 ballot. (Klouda, 2013)
On 1 October, 2013 citizens of Homer, Alaska overturned the plastic bag ban by a vote of 56% to 44% or 661-519. A total of 1,180 votes were cast out of 4,337 registered voters for a 27.2% voter turnout. (City of Homer, 2013)
Most residents who objected to the ordinance simply objected to the coercion, many of whom already use cloth bags. The sentiment expressed was the problem with progressive politicians who rely on the ban-hammer as the first weapon of choice rather than the last resort.
Have you ever wondered why grocery stores are in support of a plastic bag ban? Well, I have. I wondered if they supported the bag ban in order to cozy up to local officials? Or was it because they wanted to be good citizens? Or, is there some kind of financial incentive?
Before a bag ban, stores purchased plastic and paper bags and distributed these bags at checkout for “free”. They really weren’t free, the retailer purchased and paid for the bags and passed the cost to you in the form of higher retail prices. Plastic bags cost less than 2 cents each and paper bags from 5 to 8 cents each in bulk quantities. The cost of plastic and paper bags is considered an overhead cost or an indirect cost and is indirectly paid for by customers. Continue reading Why are Grocers For Plastic Bag Bans?→
Bag Bans are one of the latest Eco-Fads being pushed by the “green” movement and virtually all “environmental” groups as a solution to the plastic bag litter problem. These groups put enormous pressure on city officials to implement a plastic bag ban and paper bag fees on their citizens. These groups attempt to link virtually every environmental problem to the simple plastic grocery bag, defying logic and misleading government officials, the media, and the public by continuously repeating a series of lies, distortions, and half-truths that do not hold up under scientific scrutiny.
There is a saying that if you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth. This is often the strategy of the bag ban proponents. And the internet has afforded thousands of people eager to ban bags the ability to repeat the same lies and distortions over and over until people just accept them as fact.
In this article we examine a majority of the most often quoted and repeated lies and distortions related to plastic bags and bag bans.
State Lawmakers and environmentalists who propose a statewide plastic carryout bag bans, like so many officials in communities that have implemented such bans, most often fail to take into consideration the economics of a bag ban and the increased costs to residents. Not only will residents incur out-of-pocket costs to purchase bags, but depending upon the type of bag chosen, personal time will be required to manage bags and maintain bags in a sanitary condition. Continue reading Statewide Bag Ban Would Cost Residents More Than $1 Billion!→
More and more California communities are adopting local ordinances that implement a plastic carryout bag ban. In the haste to ban plastic carryout bags, officials fail to take into consideration the costs that are passed onto residents. Not only will residents incur out-of-pocket costs to purchase bags, but depending upon the type of bag chosen, residents are required to spend personal time to manage bags and maintain bags in a sanitary condition. In the article “Plastic Bag Alternatives Much More Costly to Consumers” the authors analyze the annual cost per household of different bag alternatives and monetize the value of one’s personal time at $12 per hour (half of the California Average Labor Rate). The article costs out store supplied plastic carryout bags, self-purchased plastic carryout bags, paper bags, durable reusable bags, and cheaper reusable bags. Continue reading What Will A Plastic Carryout Bag Ban Cost Your Community?→
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.
Residents in Campbell, California who are opposed to plastic carryout bag bans have filed official paperwork to launch an initiative petition which will allow the citizens of Campbell to vote to block bag bans from coming to their city. Their effort, supported by the Stop the Bag Ban citizen’s group, will be the first such effort launched in California empowering the people to stop a bag ban.
Bag bans typically ban plastic carryout bags and impose a minimum fee on paper bags issued with the goal of coercing shoppers to use reusable bags. Bag bans have been adopted by the governing bodies in over 70 municipalities and counties in California; however, none has ever allowed their citizens to affirm or overturn their decision by popular vote.
The proposed initiative would add language to Campbell’s Municipal Code to prohibit carryout bag bans, taxes, or minimum fees, and would overturn any laws that had been passed prior to the vote.
According to petition co-organizer Larry Grattan, a long time Campbell resident, a bag ban is simply not needed. He stated that arguments for a bag ban are weak and more of an emotional plea that ends up taking away the freedoms and rights of businesses and individuals, exposes the public to increased health risks, and increases the monetary cost of shopping.
“If someone wants to use a reusable bag, then they have that right,” said Larry Grattan, “but it is wrong to force the other 90% of the people who freely choose plastic or paper bags to use reusable bags against their will.”
Signature gathering is expected to begin in early July. The petitioners will have 6 months to gather enough signatures to force the initiative to a vote of the people at the next general election or to force a special election if needed to stop implementation of a bag ban passed by the city council.