Tag Archives: plastic

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

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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’s Bag Ban Useless in Solving Litter Problems –Should Be Rescinded

Palm trees lining streets in San Jose, California
Palm trees lining streets in San Jose, California (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As previously noted in the blog article titled “San Jose Painfully Learns Litter Problems Were Not Solved by Plastic Bag Ban!”, the City of San Jose is painfully discovering that it’s much touted plastic bag ban that cost residents millions of dollars did virtually nothing to solve the city’s serious litter problems. According to the Environmental Impact Report (EIR), one of the stated reasons for implementing the bag ban was to reduce litter on city streets, in creeks, and in storm drains. (City of San Jose, 2010) Two years after the plastic bag ban was implemented, that there has been no reduction of overall litter. Furthermore, the case is made, using San Jose’s own litter surveys and claims of bag ban success, to show that the plastic bag ban was never needed but was a very expensive mistake.

Although the exact number of single-use paper and plastic carryout bags used in the city is unknown, the city estimates that 68 million paper bags and 500 million single-use plastic carryout bags are used every year. In fact the Draft EIR identifies that 1.4 plastic bags are used per day by every living person in the City of San Jose which equates to 511 plastic carryout bags per person per year. (City of San Jose, 2010) This means that a family of four would use 4 x 511 or 2044 plastic bags per year.

In a November 20, 2012 memorandum to the San Jose City Council from Kerrie Romanov (Director of Environmental Services for San Jose) the following statement was made:

Reducing the use of single-use carryout bags … supports the City’s Stormwater Permit requirement to reduce trash from the storm drain system from entering local creeks and enhance water quality: reduces litter in City sheets and neighborhoods: and lowers the cost of litter control.” (Romanov, 2012, p. 2) Continue reading San Jose’s Bag Ban Useless in Solving Litter Problems –Should Be Rescinded

Plastic Bag Bans – A Community Could Do So Much Better & For So Much Less

Plastic Ocean
Plastic Debris in Ocean (Photo credit: Kevin Krejci)

Litter from fast food waste makes up 29.4% of roadside litter.  Should we ban fast food takeout?  Now, before you answer, plastic grocery bags make up less than 0.6% of all roadside litter and cities all over California are banning plastic grocery bags!  The good news is that fast food takeout is not being banned, but it begs the question “Why are plastic grocery bags singled out when their contribution to litter is miniscule?”

In fact, officials who vote for plastic bag bans cannot even point to a plastic bag litter problem in their own community!  Let alone a problem of sufficient magnitude that would justify a ban.  Litter surveys are rarely ever conducted and when they are, they are conducted in a haphazard manner leading to questionable results.  Decisions to implement bag bans are usually based on anecdotal evidence, questionable at best, offered by environmental groups such as showing pictures of a few plastic bags littered around town, in the river bed, and pictures of a turtle chewing on a plastic bag.

Everything that man uses is littered.  Ever see a discarded candy wrapper, a paper bag, a milk carton, a mattress, a sofa, or a tire on the side of the road?  Life would be tough if we ban everything that is littered, including plastic grocery bags.  Despite the lack of evidence that plastic bag litter is a significant problem, let’s assume it is and look at more cost effective and appropriate methods of dealing with that litter, methods that would be beneficial to the community.

To read the entire article click on the following link:  Plastic Bag Bans – A Community Could Do So Much Better & For So Much Less

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Bag Bans and Obamacare – Cut From the Same Cloth

Obamacare Protest at Supreme Court
Obamacare Protest at Supreme Court (Photo credit: southerntabitha)

The federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (HR 3590) commonly referred to as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or “Obamacare” was passed and signed into law on March 23, 2010. (Wikipedia)  You might ask the question “What does Obamacare have to do with a plastic bag ban?”  A lot more than you think!  The similarity of characteristics between Obamacare and plastic bag bans is striking in many areas.

A Plastic Bag Ban, like Obamacare, is a product of progressives who implement big government, top down, totalitarian solutions in response to real or imagined problems.  To see what Obamacare and Plastic Bag Bans have in common, read on!

What Bag Bans and Obamacare Have in common

Obamacare was passed on a single party line vote and signed into law despite the overwhelming opposition by the public. (Williams, 2014)  Likewise, plastic bag bans are passed into law by progressive city councils or county board of supervisors even though more than 50% of the public is opposed.  In other words, like Obamacare, plastic bag bans are forced down the throats of the public whether you like it or not.

Obamacare prevents health insurance companies from selling insurance policies that do not meet federal coverage standards.  Likewise, state and local bag ban ordinances prevent retail stores from distributing plastic carryout bags that do not meet reusable bag standards and are at least 225 mils thick.

There is much, much more.  Click on the following link to read the entire article: Bag Bans and Obamacare – Cut From the Same Cloth

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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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Bag Bans: Trading One Problem For Another

 

Australian Green Bag
Australian Green Bag (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Officials in many communities across California and the Nation have implemented bans on the distribution of plastic carryout bags at selected retailers including a fee on paper bags.  The fee on paper bags is imposed for no other reason than to coerce shoppers to switch to using reusable bags.  The reason most often given by these officials is the litter and aesthetic problem posed by plastic carryout bags and the harm caused to marine and terrestrial environments including wildlife.

These officials, have unfortunately, succumbed to political correctness and the self-interest of being seen as “green” and supportive of the environment.  However, instead of due diligence to carefully evaluate alternative solutions, officials adopt the same populist prescription implemented by other communities.

Although Bag Ban Proponents are passionate about their zeal to protect the environment, their ideas are generally disconnected from reality and their solutions don’t work and are unrealistic.  Nowhere is this more aptly illustrated than in the communities of San Jose and Santa Monica where bag usage surveys reveal that shoppers opt for paper bags or no bags over reusable bags by a ratio of two-to-one.  In other words, the majority of shoppers reject using reusable bags.

Because officials do not carefully evaluate the litter impact of plastic carryout bags compared to the impact that a plastic bag ban will have on their citizens, officials have unwittingly traded one problem for another.  In other words, the bag ban doesn’t really solve a problem, it only shifts the problem from one area to another.  What is worse, a plastic bag litter problem which has no impact in your personal life, now after a bag ban presents a series of challenges, in your face, each and every time you go shopping.

To read the entire article click on the following link:  Bag Bans – Trading One Problem For Another

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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.

Bag Bans: Wrong Way to Control Litter

Bag Bans are the wrong solution to control litter from plastic grocery bags.  Many communities are driven to ban these bags because they are a very visible form of litter.  But is banning these bags the right solution?  I don’t think so, and neither should you!

Plastic bags of all kinds make up only about 0.6% of litter.  So a ban on plastic grocery bags would at most eliminate no more than 0.6% of litter.  The other 99.4% is still out there waiting to be cleaned up!

All carryout bags have a negative environmental impact.  Paper bags and reusable bags have a higher negative environmental impact and larger carbon footprint than plastic bags.  In fact, 10 out of 14 environmental indicators go up after a bag ban is implemented, meaning a bag ban is a bad idea from an environmental perspective.

For more information see: Bag Bans Wrong Way To Control Litter.

Why are Grocers For Plastic Bag Bans?

English: This is a paper bag from Victory Supe...
English: This is a paper bag from Victory Supermarkets (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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?