Thursday, October 23, 2014

Think Plastic Grocery Bags Are Bad For The Environment? Look At The Alternative

California's law was passed on emotion and wanting to "do something", another common impulse of lefties:
Make no mistake: This measure wasn’t about preserving our environment—the alternatives to plastic bags have heavier environmental footprints than the now-illegal variety deemed outmoded—or protecting cute marine life. This was an exercise in punishing an industry, and the thousands of hard-working Californians it employs, that Big Green finds politically distasteful.

In both environmental and fiscal measures, bag bans are unqualified failures. This ban will engender no positive outcomes for our environment and in turn only toughen the job climate. And yet it gets even worse when one examines the process through which this particular deal was brokered.

Here, greedy special interests and desperate legislators struck an agreement to allow grocers to retain all the paper bag fees in return for their support of the legislation. Projected to earn as much as $1 billion in new revenue, the grocers gladly obliged. With the help of the grocers’ lobbyists, legislators in Sacramento had the necessary air cover to ignore the environmental science and potential for dramatic job loss. So do what they refused and consult the data.

Plastic bags generate fully 80 percent less solid waste than paper bags. They require 70 percent less energy to manufacture and 91 percent less energy to recycle. They occupy 85 percent less landfill space than bulky paper alternatives.

Now size up in-vogue reusable bags.

According to a lifecycle analysis by the United Kingdom’s environmental authority, shoppers would need to reuse their reusable totes 131 times before it became more environmentally advantageous than a plastic bag that was used just once. The Brits determined that it would take 7.5 years, assuming one trip to the market a week, for a reusable bag to have a lesser carbon footprint than a plastic bag used only three times.

But the problems with reusable bags aren’t simply limited to its gross environmental failings. They also pose a growing public health risk....
Crony capitalism plus false claims of environmental superiority.  That's California!


maxutils said...

I love my Trader Joe's reusable bags ... and I wash them regularly. I have 4, and they are easier to carry, and I use them as often as possible ... and I think I paid 4 bucks each. Money well spent. That said? When I clean my kitty litter box, I use the plastic bags I also get from grocery stores. wouldn't dream of using the recyclables ... so what's my alternative, if I can't get 'free' bags (it's factored in to food cost ...and don't expect prices to drop)? Well, buy bags that will be guaranteed to be single use, cost more, and guarantee no real net benefit to the environment.

Darren said...

So we'll pay more (I, too, reuse plastic bags), cause slower lines at grocery checkout (that's what happened when the Walmart up the street from me tried to get rid of bags--checkout time grew because everyone's bags were different and didn't all fit the "bag rack"), and have to use more of our decreasing supply of water to launder the reusable bags.

What, exactly, is the upside?

PeggyU said...

That's California ... and Bellingham, Washington!

maxutils said...

Um, none? Except for the fact that I like my bags, and shop at uncrowded times. But ... that's my choice, not the government's.

Auntie Ann said...

I absolutely refuse to pay a grocer for a paper or plastic bag. I'll have them dump everything right back into the cart before I give them a dime. The corrupt rent-seeking by the grocers, in partnership with the environmentalists, is one of the strongest examples of the practice I've seen. It was a straight-up bribe to get the grocers to support the legislation. I also have said before that I buy my paper and plastic bags at Amazon.

That said, I agree with maxutils, that the TJ canvas bags are fabulous, and the best price for them out there. I use them as book bags when tutoring and for our aero beds and sleeping bags. I don't use them for shopping, though.

Auntie Ann said...

I wish I had tagged the article, but about a week ago I saw something about a ban which *increased* the number of plastic bags in circulation and of plastic waste. People who used to reuse the bags for garbage and pet waste before the ban, went out after the ban and bought bigger, thicker bags at the store.

Anonymous said...

I don't go shopping much, but when I do, I shop in Mt. Vernon for the free bags. Curse you Bham City Council.

KauaiMark said...

I find it amusing that they made us switched from paper TO plastic to "Save The Trees". Now they want to switch back and pay for paper or bring your own re-usuable sack.

Wait until there is an outbreak of bacterial infection from the re-useable sacks that never get washed after use.

I guess we'll all have to use Amazon to deliver groceries packed in plastic bubble-wrap and cardboard boxes dropped by aerial drones.

...eggs might be a problem


KauaiMark said...

P.S. We brought back every plastic grocery bag from our vacation visit to Washington D.C. last month.

maxutils said...

KauaiMark -- eggs and leaky chicken packages will absolutely be the two things to likely kill you. The good news? You can still wrap your chicken in a couple of plastic produce bags before you get to the check stand … which means that you've completely ruined the intent of the program.