The eco-burden of plastic bags

Even though California wasn’t able to pass its statewide tax on plastic bags, plenty of its municipalities have gone ahead and imposed bans or taxes anyways. They’re outlawed in cities like San Francisco and Fairfax, and many other cities — Los Angeles, San Jose, etc — are already forging their own bans. And that’s just California: Plastic bag bans are slated to take effect in just a few months in cities in Texas, Alaska, and Hawaii. It looks like the plastic shopping bag is on its way out — unless one group has its way…

Yes, the formidable Save the Plastic Bag Coalition (!) has reared its head, and appears ready to fight the good fight in the name of non-biodegradable refuse everywhere.

USA Today reports on the fast-growing trend of cities ditching disposable plastic bags:

Plastic bags are already outlawed in San Francisco and other California cities — Malibu, Fairfax and Palo Alto — as well as Westport, Conn.; Bethel, Alaska; and Edmonds, Wash. This month, a ban in North Carolina’s Outer Banks was expanded from large retailers to all stores. Washington, D.C., this year began requiring a nickel fee for each disposable grocery bag.

Which is a fantastic start. Not every city that proposes such a tax succeeds, as Seattle voters turned down a 20 cent fee on plastic bags. But those that have succeeded, like Washington DC, have seen major results: Plastic bag use dropped from 22 million to 3 million a month in the city.


These bans and taxes mark good progress towards encouraging reusable shopping bags and cutting back on the flow of waste to the landfill. But wherever there’s progress, there’s a force opposing it (look it up; it’s physics). In this case, it’s the hilariously thinly veiled front group for the plastics industry, the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition. The group has launched legal challenges on behalf of the plastic bag, asserting that somehow, plastic bag bans are actually worse for the environment. You can click the link above and scroll down through the massive pile of doublespeak offered therein. No reports have yet surfaced revealing whether SPBC members can sleep at night.

Regardless of the legal challenges, which will likely be conquered, it’s good to see the nation pushing out the pointless plastic bag. The USA Today story ends on a similarly inspiring note: “‘This issue is not going away,’ says Ronald Fong, CEO of the California Grocers Association, an industry group that backed California’s proposed ban. ‘The future is in reusable bags.'”

via Treehugger