This is a special day. It is not very often I get to check the solid waste category box:
... lawmakers in Sacramento are trying to make California the first state to approve a blanket ban on this most ubiquitous of consumer products. ...
Mr. Padilla’s [a state senator who is sponsoring legislation for a statewide ban] measure would ban the bags at supermarkets, liquor stores and other locations where they have long been standbys. Paper bags and more robust, reusable plastic bags will be available for 10 cents, with the goal of forcing shoppers to remember their canvas bags.
The case against plastic shopping bags is simple and, with more than 150 communities across the country embracing some kind of anti-bag laws, increasingly familiar. Plastic bags are used once or twice but can last up to a millennium. Only a small fraction of the bags are recycled, in large part because they jam sorting machines at recycling plants and so must be separated from other plastics. Many bags end up snagged on trees, stuck in storm drains or sitting in landfills.
In just a few years, local bans on plastic bags have spread from San Francisco to Honolulu to the North Shore of Massachusetts. Washington, D.C., has imposed a five-cent fee, and New York City has several times considered charging for bags, most recently last year, when the proposal died at the end of the city’s legislative session. The new mayor, Bill de Blasio, has expressed support for a ban on plastic bags.
Many consumers bristle at having to pay for a necessity that has always been free. “We’re already struggling,” Ms. Moya said as she waited in the rain for a taxi with her disintegrating paper bags, bought for 10 cents each. “Groceries cost enough money. Then I have to pay for bags?”
The plastics industry has worked furiously to tap into that frustration. So far, the industry — behind millions of dollars spent lobbying lawmakers — has managed to beat back efforts to pass statewide bans in California and a handful of other states.
Hilex Poly, one of the nation’s largest manufacturers of plastic bags, single-handedly spent more than $1 million lobbying against a bill to ban plastic in California in 2010. That bill failed, as did another attempt in 2013. Hilex Poly, based in Hartsville, S.C., has made political donations to every Democrat in the California Senate who joined Republicans in voting against last year’s bill.
Mark Daniels, a vice president at Hilex Poly, said a ban would cost the state up to 2,000 jobs. ...
[Bans are] “... very effective, and it’s very cost-effective,” said Kerrie Romanow, director of environmental services for San Jose, Calif.
Since San Jose’s ban took effect in 2012, plastic-bag litter in storm drains, which can contribute to flooding, has fallen by 89 percent. In unincorporated parts of Los Angeles County, large retail stores reported a drop in the use of paper bags since a similar ban, coupled with a 10-cent fee for paper bags, took effect. ...
Abbi Waxman, a television writer in Los Angeles, said she had tried for years to wean herself off plastic bags. But despite sidelong looks from grocery store cashiers, she seldom remembered to bring her cloth bags.
Then the 10-cent fee kicked in.
“Once they started charging me, that was the tipping point when I could actually remember to bring my bags,” said Ms. Waxman, 43, standing with a half-dozen reusable bags on a recent shopping trip.
- Just on principle, I'd prefer a higher plastic bag fee that covers the environmental costs of plastic bags without the ban. Bans can be inefficient and those bags can be useful. Those who are willing to pay their full costs should be given the chance to use them.
- I hope that readers of this blog know not to take that 2000 job estimate too seriously. When you can show that an environmental policy affects the unemployment rate (or better yet, the employment population ratio), we'll take you more seriously.
- In terms of my own environmental behavior, I get Tomato Bank points every time I bring my AEA bag (or my NAAFE bag) to Earthfare. I still forget enough times that my inventory of recycled boxes that they provide has caused my kids to sleep in the same room. And I have enough plastic bags from Ingles that my turkey sandwich has a brand new lunch bag every day.