Tag Archives: Storm drain

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

San Jose Miscalculates Plastic Bag Litter Reduction in Storm Drain System

A very clear day!
A very clear day! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ten months after the City of San Jose implemented their Plastic Bag Ban, Kerrie Romanov, Director of Environmental Services for the City of San Jose, issued a memorandum dated November 20, 2012 to the San Jose City Council claiming success of the “Plastic Bag Ban” (San Jose ordinance #28877). Romanov claimed this success based upon a 59% reduction in plastic bag litter on city streets and neighborhoods, a 60% reduction in plastic bag litter in creeks, and an 89% reduction of plastic bag litter in storm drains.

These statistics, particularly the 89% storm drain plastic bag reduction, have been widely quoted by bag ban proponents as empirical evidence that bag bans are effective in reducing plastic carryout bag litter and that bag bans “work”. Continue reading San Jose Miscalculates Plastic Bag Litter Reduction in Storm Drain System

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

The California Bag Ban Scam

Capture10Statewide and local bag bans were a SCAM from the very beginning. These measures can best be characterized by deceitful scheming, repeated lies and distortions, backroom deals, a supportive one-sided media, and enough politicians succumbing to political correctness to force this law and the resulting shopping behavior changes on the people of California.

Not only were Californians deprived of more reasonable and acceptable solutions to address plastic bag litter by the shenanigans of bag banners but will also pay an additional $1 Billion per year just to take their groceries home.  And after spending all that money, litter will hardly be  affected at all!  More than 99.6% of litter will still be there waiting to be picked up.

These measures were passed by progressive politicians, and even though the measures affect every one of their constituents, both financially and through the expenditure of personal time, none were allowed to vote for it. In fact, to date, no member of the public  has ever been given the chance to vote for or against these measures!

The paper “The California Plastic Bag Ban Scam” examines and exposes the methods used by the bag banners to push bag bans at the local and state level, and how they were able to push through a law that is not only unpopular, but also sets new dangerous precedents in governmental power and law.

To read or download the article, click on the following link: The California Plastic Bag Ban Scam.

The authors welcome any feedback or corrections to this article.

San Jose Painfully Learns Litter Problems Were Not Solved By Plastic Bag Ban!

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

The City of San Jose is painfully discovering that the much touted bag ban that cost residents millions of dollars in out of pocket costs and personal time did nothing to solve litter problems. An environmental group, San Francisco Baykeeper, has notified the city that intends to file a lawsuit because of the city’s failure to prevent trash and sewage from flowing into the Guadalupe River and Coyote Creek through its storm drain system and into San Francisco Bay. The lawsuit is being filed because of violations of the Federal Clean Water Act. (Rogers, 2014)

San Jose is a hot spot for trash pollution and bacterial pollution into the bay,” said attorney Sejal Choksi, program director for Baykeeper. “Its leaders have not taken care of the problem or prioritized the issue. We’ve seen the trash, we’ve measured the bacterial pollution. What they are doing is not sufficient.” (Rogers, 2014)

In response, Kerrie Romanow, director of environmental services for the City of San Jose, stated that nine catch basins have already been installed in the storm drain system to trap trash and plans are to install 20 more in the next three years. She also stated that the city has increased street sweeping and banned plastic bags. (Rogers, 2014)

San Francisco Baykeeper is a non-profit corporation whose purpose is “… to preserve, protect, and defend the environment, wildlife, and natural resources of San Francisco Bay, its tributaries, and other waters in the Bay Area.” (San Francisco Baykeeper, 2014) Continue reading San Jose Painfully Learns Litter Problems Were Not Solved By Plastic Bag Ban!

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.

The Lies, Myths, Half-Truths, and Exaggerations of Bag Ban Proponents

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.

Click on the following link to read or download the article: The Lies Myths Half Truths and Exaggerations of Bag Ban Proponents.

Sample Letter Opposing Bag Ban and Carryout Bag Fees

Assembly Member <Enter name Here>

I am requesting that you vote NO on any plastic bag ban or bag fee.  A plastic bag ban is worse for the environment than the status quo.  Currently, under the Clean Water Act and the local Total Maximum Daily Loads program, trash excluder or capture devices are being installed in storm drain catch basins or outfalls.  This will capture and prevent trash including plastic bags from getting into creeks and rivers and flow to the ocean.  80% of plastic in the ocean comes from land based sources via the storm drain; hence, trash excluders will prevent most bags from reaching the ocean.  While the solution is not 100%, a 100% solution is not required since not all plastic bags are banned.  Furthermore, reusable bags are not all recyclable.  Continue reading Sample Letter Opposing Bag Ban and Carryout Bag Fees

Is a Plastic Carry Out Bag Ban Justified?

Many communities all across California have either banned plastic carryout bags altogether or are somewhere in the process of doing so.  Environmental extremists have pushed for a plastic carryout bag ban in community after community based primarily upon claims of environmental damage to marine wildlife and marine habitats. 

Continue reading Is a Plastic Carry Out Bag Ban Justified?