Sunday, January 29, 2017

In California, ‘Paper or Plastic?’ Is Against the Law: Supermarkets can no longer give out shopping bags, though the claimed benefits are dubious

By Allysia Finley of the WSJ. Excerpts:
"Grocery and convenience stores can offer paper or reusable bags, but the law requires them to charge at least 10 cents a pop."

"In 2006, the state Legislature passed a law that required large grocery stores to run recycling programs to collect plastic bags. To obtain grocers’ support for the law, the Legislature prohibited cities or counties from imposing fees on plastic bags.

San Francisco responded to this prohibition the following year by banning plastic bags entirely. Nearly 150 cities and counties followed suit"

"Liberals in San Francisco proclaimed that the city’s ban would reduce global warming and America’s reliance on foreign oil. Yet only about 3% of plastic bags are produced using oil"

"Many reusable bags, on the other hand, are derived from oil, and produced in Asia to boot."

"paper, cloth and reusable bags produce many times more greenhouse-gas emissions over their life cycles"

"a paper bag, compared with a plastic one, was 3.3 times worse in terms of greenhouse gases. The study also found that paper bags resulted in more water and air pollution."

"plastic bags make up a tiny share of litter, less than 1% in most cities, according to a 2013 survey by Environmental Resources Planning."

"emergency-room admissions in San Francisco from food-borne illnesses surged after the city imposed its ban. Many people, it seems, were reusing their bags without washing them first."

"Los Angeles County’s ban shifted commerce to incorporated cities where plastic bags remained free and legal. In the months after the ban passed, employment dropped by an average of 10.4% at grocery stores in the county’s unincorporated areas. Meanwhile, the at-store recycling centers, mandated by the 2006 law, were expensive to operate and produced uncertain benefits, since few customers returned their bags."

"The requirement that stores charge at least 10 cents for alternative bags was meant to keep retailers from undercutting each other by giving them out free. Farmers markets, naturally, were exempted."

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