Tag Archives: San Jose

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 Litter Surveys Examined: Plastic Bag Ban Completely Unjustified!

The new City Hall of San Jose, California. The...
The new City Hall of San Jose, California. The perspective is west down East Santa Clara Street towards Fifth Street.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The City of San Jose, to their credit, is one of the few cities that conducted litter surveys both before and after the city’s bag ban. Results showing the percentage reduction of single-use plastic carryout bags (i.e. plastic grocery bags) as a component of litter have been cited by the city as proof that the city’s bag ban is effective. Likewise, environmental groups nationwide have touted these same results as a justification for promoting new bag bans and opposing repeal efforts. Unfortunately, the City of San Jose did not conduct litter surveys in a controlled and scientific manner, did not correctly analyze survey data, and did not put survey results into proper perspective. As a result, the data collected is unreliable for computing a meaningful figure of merit, such as the percent reduction in plastic carryout bag litter resulting from the city’s plastic bag ban.

Yet, despite these shortcomings, the litter surveys did reveal several surprising facts that have escaped the notice of city officials, the media, and those in other cities who cite San Jose’s claims:

  • That only half of ALL plastic bag litter found in sampled areas on city streets and creeks consists of single-use plastic carryout bags; hence, a bag ban would at most eliminate only about half of all plastic bag litter.
  • That only about 10% of litter in creeks consists of single-use plastic carryout bags; hence, a bag ban affects at most 10% of ALL litter in creeks, leaving the remaining 90% unresolved. Therefore, all of the cost and cleanup efforts still need to be implemented since this will not meet the 100% reduction goal required under the federal Clean Water Act.
  • That the number of single-use plastic carryout bags found during all of the litter surveys in 2009, 2010, and 2011 (prior to the bag ban) average only 1,000 bags per year, or less than 1 for every 1,000 people, or the equivalent of what two (2) people out of a population of more than 1 million would use annually!

The use of unreliable and questionable survey data to project large percentage reductions of an insignificant number of littered plastic grocery bags combined with a complete lack of evidence of any cost savings to the city or to the people show that the bag ban was never justified from the beginning, and that the ongoing cost burden to San Jose families is likewise unjustified.

To read the entire article, click the following link: San Jose Litter Surveys Examined – Plastic Bag Ban Completely Unjustified

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

San Jose Bag Ban Doesn’t Make a Dent in Litter

Despite a bag ban for two years in the City of San Jose, litter is still a prevalent problem.  While it is true, fewer retail store plastic carryout bags are observed, litter and unregulated plastic bags is still a very visible problem.  On the website: http://js-politicsandburacracy.blogspot.com/2013/12/san-jose-bag-ban-almost-two-years-later.html one San Jose resident posted photos of litter in San Jose.  This is worthwhile seeing if you think that a plastic carryout bag ban will reduce litter in your area.

Here are two videos of litter in San Jose.  The first is from Tully Road East to Coyote Creek and the second is from Coyote Creek Trailhead Tully Road to Stonegate.

In neighboring Campbell, in which the bag ban will not go into effect until 27 January 2014, there is virtually no plastic bag litter and very little litter.  Photos are shown in the following article: http://js-politicsandburacracy.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2014-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&updated-max=2015-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&max-results=1

This video is taken in Campbell, CA.  Campbell Park and Los Gatos Creek Trail Southbound to San Thomas Expressway.  The entire route is virtually trash free.

This video is taken in Santa Clara, from Scott Blvd southbound to El Camino Real eastbound to Lafayette Street.  This video is proof that Santa Clara despite allowing plastic carryout bags and polystyrene food ware to be used without restriction hardly has any litter and it is nearly impossible to find a improperly disposed of Styrofoam food container let alone a grocery or shopping bag.  In fact not a single plastic shopping  bag was seen floating around in “city” controlled areas.

In contrast, San Jose, despite a two year ban on plastic carryout bags, its streets are just as littered as before the bag ban if not more so.

The fact is that imposing a bag ban to eliminate less than 0.6% of litter is a waste of money and effort, not only the costs incurred by the city but also the millions of dollars that residents must spend to comply with the bag ban.

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.

Rebuttal of the San Jose Bag Ban Results

English: Montage of San Jose, California pictures.
English: Montage of San Jose, California pictures. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In November of 2012, ten months after implementation of the San Jose Bag Ban, the city issued a report claiming success.  The memorandum contained an analysis of litter surveys and claimed a reduction of on-land plastic bag litter of 59%, 60% in creeks, and 89% in storm drains.  The latter figure is widely used by bag ban proponents as proof the law works.  However, problems with the underlying data as well as the methodology used indicate that these reduction figures are questionable.  Other factors such as a cost analysis was never done by the city nor were other less costly alternatives investigated.

In an article “San Jose Bag Ban Report Rebuttal” the authors respond to the claims of success in a stinging rebuttal.  The authors claim that the wrong parameter was measured, measurement methodology was unscientific and flawed, bag usage observations were not taken at a broad cross-section of stores, no cost/benefit analysis was conducted, and serious negative impacts were never addressed.

The authors present an analysis of plastic bag litter reduction calculations by the city as well as supply their own.  Also presented is a pre ban and post ban cost analysis of carryout bag use showing the cost increase that is incurred by consumers.

San Jose Bag Ban: Litter Survey Results Exaggerated!

 

Scene from downtown San Jose at City Hall
Scene from downtown San Jose at City Hall (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The city of San Jose is one of the few cities in California that conducted litter surveys before and after a plastic bag ban went into effect. The city conducted surveys of litter on city streets, creeks, and storm drains.  The city published results in a memorandum dated 20 November 2012.

Environmentalists and Bag Ban Proponents love to say that “San Jose saw an 89% reduction in plastic bag litter after the bag ban.”  However, that is not what the San Jose 1 Year results show, as stated below:

“The various litter surveys demonstrated a reduction in bag litter of approximately 89 percent in the storm drain system, 60 percent in the creeks and rivers, and 59 percent in City streets and neighborhoods, when compared to data collected from 2010 and or 2011 (pre-ordinance) to data from 2012 (post-ordinance).” (Romanov, 2012)

Stating that San Jose saw an 89% reduction in plastic bag litter deceitfully overstates the 59% reduction in plastic bag litter found on San Jose city streets and sidewalks; and the 60% reduction in plastic bag litter found in creeks and rivers.

Not only are environmentalists hyping the wrong number, the number itself is based upon a reduction of 71 fewer plastic bags found in 22 storm drain catch basins and hardly the kind of number to be tossed around.

Environmentalists and Bag Ban Proponents should be using the 59% reduction in plastic bags on streets and sidewalks instead of the 89% reduction in storm drains. 

Bibliography

Romanov, K. (2012, November 20). Bring Your Own Bag Ordinance Implementation Results and Actions To Reduce EPS Foam Food Ware. Retrieved August 12, 2013, from City of San Jose: http://www3.sanjoseca.gov/clerk/CommitteeAgenda/TE/20121203/TE20121203_d5.pdf