Tag Archives: Shopping bag

Are Plastic Grocery Bags Falsely Labeled as “Single-Use” Bags?

Hemdchentuete
By Phrontis [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Bag Banners have long demonized disposable plastic grocery bags by labeling them as “single-use” plastic carryout bags that, they claim, are only used only a few minutes to carry your groceries home. These claims disputed by citizens who understand that plastic grocery bags are not single-use bags but are reused by consumers for a variety of other purposes. While Bag Banners and public officials only half-heartedly acknowledged such reuse, they steadfastly refused to consider the environmental benefits that such reuse creates. The question “Are Plastic Grocery Bags Falsely Labeled as ‘Single-Use’ Bags?” is an important question that will be examined from several perspectives in this paper. In addition, paper grocery bags and also the newly mandated thicker plastic grocery bags will be examined including the terminology used to describe these bags. We intend to expose the blatant falsehood behind labeling a shopping bag as either single-use or reusable.

Plastic T-Shirt Bags (aka Plastic Grocery Bags)

Plastic grocery bags with handles are actually named “Plastic T-shirt Bags” and come in a variety of sizes, colors, and custom printed logos. They are a time saving convenience for both the retailer and the customer and which offers the retailer a marketing opportunity to advertise their business. For customers, they are not only convenient, clean, and safe, but they also serve a multitude of other uses after transporting their purchases home. So how did these safe, clean, convenient and reused plastic “T-shirt bags” get relabeled as “Single-Use Plastic Carryout Bags” in city, county, and state laws?

To read more click on the following link: Are Plastic Grocery Bags Falsely Labeled as Single-Use Bags

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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/

 

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

Santa Clara City Council Passes Bag Ban

English: A sign in Santa Clara, California pro...
A sign in Santa Clara, California proclaims the city’s status as an All-America City in 2001. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On 19 August 2014, the Santa Clara City Council, by a unanimous vote, passed an Ordinance to prohibit the distribution of single-use carry-out bags including the approval and Adoption of a Negative Declaration pursuant with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  The latter document declared that the bag ban will not result in a significant environmental impact.

Similar to ordinances passed by other cities, the proposed ordinance would ban the distribution of plastic carryout bags at point of sale beginning 1 December 2014.  Retailers may also make paper bags or reusable bags (Cloth or thick plastic bags) available for sale at a minimum fee of 10 cents.  In addition, customers who participate in WIC or SNAP (Food Stamp Programs) are eligible to receive one or more paper bags at NO COST.  The fees collected by the retail establishment are to be retained by the retailer and are meant to pay for the cost of implementing the ordinance (i.e. the cost of paper bags provided to customers paying the paper bag fee and the cost of free paper bags received by WIC and SNAP participants.) (van Leeuwen, Plastic Bag Ban Creates New Welfare Benefit, 2013)  A retail establishment is subject to a fine for each occurrence where it provides a customer a plastic carryout bag not meeting the requirements of a reusable bag at the point of sale for the purpose of carrying purchases home. Continue reading Santa Clara City Council Passes Bag Ban

Reason Foundation Releases New Studies That Question Plastic Bag Bans

 

Map of California showing the primary cities a...
Map of California showing the primary cities and roadways (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reason Foundation, a public policy research organization recently released several studies that raise serious questions about plastic bag ban and the associated environmental and economic impacts. The articles and associated documents can be downloaded by clicking on the article links.

In a column titled “California’s Proposed Plastic Bag Ban Would Cost Consumers But Wouldn’t Improve the Environment” researchers Julian Morris and Lance Christensen claim that banning lightweight plastic bags would likely increase our use of energy and water and increase greenhouse gas emissions and would not substantially reduce litter or reduce the cost of litter removal. In addition, they state it is difficult for California’s political class to justify imposing the more than $2 billion it would cost the state’s consumers.

In a study titled “An Evaluation of the Effects of California’s Proposed Plastic Bag Ban” researchers Julian Morris and Lance Christensen look at bag bans implemented by local jurisdictions and the recently introduced bill by State Senator Alex Padilla (SB 270) that would impose a statewide ban. They state the premise of these laws is to benefit the environment and reduce municipal costs; but, that in practice the opposite occurs. They state that available evidence suggests that these laws will do nothing to protect the environment, will waste resources, and cost Californian’s billions of dollars.

In a study titled “How Green Is that Grocery Bag Ban?” researchers Julian Morris and Brian Seasholes assess the environmental and economic effects of grocery bag bans and taxes. The researchers noted that the bag bans have a miniscule impact on litter, does not reduce litter collection costs, does not reduce environmental impacts including greenhouse gas emissions, more than likely has an adverse health effect from people not washing reusable bags, and that using reusable bags are inconvenient and costly, and that the cost of bag bans disproportionately fall on the poor.

What Will A Plastic Bag Ban Cost Residents In Your Community

Shopping Bag Ban
Shopping Bag Ban (Photo credit: Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com)

Most communities that have implemented plastic bag bans have generally followed the same prescription. First, plastic carryout bag are banned at checkout, and a minimum fee of 10-cents is charged for each paper bag issued in order to coerce shoppers into bringing their own reusable bags. In addition, most communities but not all, provide an exemption to the paper bag fee for certain low income groups.

Most communities that have passed plastic bag bans have done so without seriously considering the impact upon on community residents. In particular the costs imposed on residents complying with the bag ban. While a few cities have calculated the cost of reusable bags for a typical family, they have largely ignored the value of personal time required for residents to handle reusable bags (such as the effort to put bags into the car, wash bags on a regular basis, dry bags, fold bags, etc.) and the increased cost of water and energy. As a result such estimates are flawed and incomplete.

Cost of Plastic Bag Alternatives

In an article titled “Plastic Bag Alternatives Much More Costly To Consumers” the cost of different bag alternatives is estimated and discussed. This analysis includes bag alternatives such as store supplied plastic bags, store supplied paper bags. Shopper supplied plastic bags, and shopper supplied reusable bags. Furthermore, the analysis includes not only the out-of-pocket costs for bags and also the value of one’s time calculated at $12 per hour required to manage shopper supplied bag options. Continue reading What Will A Plastic Bag Ban Cost Residents In Your Community

Plastic Bag Bans: Real or Phony Environmentalism?

English: Skamania, WA, 2-21-07 -- FEMA Environ...
Environmentalist takes a photograph of River Bank repair work. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What is the difference between “real” and “phony” environmentalism? A real environmentalist is one who carefully evaluates the impact of environmental actions and considers all of the facts including primary and secondary impacts. In addition, a real environmentalist is willing to consider alternative environmental actions or even to modify the proposed environmental action in order to eliminate or compensate for unintended and damaging consequences. The phony environmentalist, on the other hand, embraces emotional “feel-good” ideas that sound wonderful but produce unintended and damaging consequences. The phony environmentalist, when confronted with these consequences, is often dogmatic and unwilling to change proposed environmental actions or even to consider alternatives designed to minimize the unintended and damaging consequences, because they are driven by “feel-good” emotions rather than a logical thought process.

The real environmentalist embraces “real science” and the phony embraces “pseudo-science” and “feel-good” ideas that sound good but are not based upon real science. In fact, entire books have been written on the phenomenon of phony environmentalism, such as “Eco-Fads” by Todd Myers  and “Science Left Behind: Feel-Good Fallacies and The Rise of The Anti-Scientific Left” by Alex B. Berezow and Hank Campbell.  Unfortunately, phony environmentalism has a track record that ignores negative environmental impacts, wastes resources, and imposes dubious environmental programs on the public through law. This dubious track record has destroyed the public’s perception of genuine efforts to improve the environment.

To read the entire article, click on the following link: Plastic Bag Bans – Real Or Phony Environmentalism

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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

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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Using Reusable Bags: It’s Not That Easy

English: ENVITOTE’s superior design is a styli...

One of the most often heard claims by those who advocate imposing bag bans on everyone else, is that using reusable bags is not very hard to do.  Here are a few of their typical statements:

  • “I’ve happily been using reusable bags for years, so others should too.”
  • “What’s the big deal about remembering to bring your bag?”
  • “Some people will resist it at first, but eventually they will change and get used to it.”
  • “Sometimes it is hard to change habits, but people will change.  They just need encouragement.”
  • “Look!  I carry a few compacted reusable bags right on my purse strap!”
  • “It is easy! It isn’t so hard!”

These statements are often delivered in an exasperated or condescending tone, implying that people are making a big deal out of nothing.  The real basis for their argument is this: They do it, so others should not complain when they are forced to do it as well.

Setting aside the argument about whether or not it is right to force others to adopt an assumed green lifestyle, we wanted to examine why using reusable bags is challenging and why compliance with using reusable bags is so low, even in communities that have already implemented bag bans.  

Statistics

Surveys at grocery stores before and after bag bans show that most people are choosing not to use reusable bags.  In San Jose, the number of customers leaving grocery stores with no bag went up from 12.9% to 43.5% and the number of customers using paper bags went up from 10.3% to 18.8% after the bag ban. (Romanov, 2012)  Similarly, in Santa Monica customers with no bag went up from 15% to 36% and paper bags went up from 5% to 29%. (Team Marine, 2013)  The statistics for non-grocery stores are even worse, with an abysmal 8% of shoppers using reusable bags almost 2 years after the bag ban. (van Leeuwen & Williams, 2013, p. 12)

Using reusable bags must not be that easy, since the vast majority of shoppers avoid using these bags and choose to use either paper bags or no bags at all over reusable bags by a ratio of about two to one. (van Leeuwen & Williams, 2013)

To read the rest of the article, click on the following link: Using Reusable Bags Not That Easy

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