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.
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.
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→
One of my primary objections to plastic carryout bag bans is that it imposes someone else’s solution to a perceived problem on everyone else. It does so, by banning plastic carryout bags and imposing a fee of 10 or 25 cents on paper bags to coerce the customer into using reusable shopping bags. While customers can always bring their own bags of any type, including plastic carryout bags, to the store to take their purchases home, the stores are only allowed to sell paper bags or reusable bags to the customer. Continue reading Pro-Choice on Shopping Bags→
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.