CA Bag Ban Draws Not-So-Funny Response

A critic of California’s plastic bag ban says the idea would be funny if it wasn’t actual policy.


by Chris Woodward

Source: One News Now

California's ban on plastic shopping bags was due to go into effect July 1 but it's now on hold after an industry group gathered enough signatures to put the issue before voters in 2016.

Supporters of the ban say it would reduce waste, thereby helping the environment. Still, the American Progressive Bag Alliance argues the ban will cost manufacturing jobs and increase profits for grocery stores that now charge customers a premium for bags that have been free.

Pam Villarreal, senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis, calls the ban "laughable" but adds it's not really funny since California really is attempting a ban.

"The problem with these plastic bag bans all over the country," says Villarreal, "is that plastic bags are a very, very small part of the waste stream. They're less than half of a percent of all solid waste."

Villarreal says the Alliance does have a point in that retailers can make money off bags.

"The money would be used to 'comply with the ban' but they make money off of these bans," she explains. "In an attempt to save the environment, we're actually putting money into the pockets of large retailers."

Speaking of the environment, Villarreal says paper bags are not a better alternative to plastic, adding they require a lot more water and produce a lot more greenhouse gas to manufacture. As for reusable bags, Villarreal says many of them are made of a type of plastic - and most of them come from China.

"Imagine all the oil used by ships to get them over here," she points out. "So, really, neither of those options are environmentally friendly."

Meanwhile, plastic bags for fruits, vegetables and meats would not have been banned.

The San Francisco Chronicle, which takes exception to the amount of money the plastic bag industry makes in California, points out that bans remain in effect in San Francisco and other California cities.