Plastic Bags – More Comment

Blog, Environment, Les Routledge

Lorne Gunter has an article today complaining about mis-guided efforts to ban plastic shopping bags The National Post

“For each use,” the easily reused and easily recycled plastic options are “almost 200 times less damaging to the climate than cotton hold-alls favoured by environmentalists, and have less than one third of the CO2 emissions than paper bags.” To be as environmentally friendly as plastic bags, paper bags would have to be used at least three times and cloth bags over 300 times. But as the UK government study found, the typical paper bag is used only once and the average cloth bag only 51 times before being discarded.

I have also blogged about this issue in the past and my opinion that governments should not ban plastic bags.

It is one thing for retailers in the competitive market to charge a fee for plastic bags.  If the customer does not like their action, there is an economic consequence.

Taxing bags and other containers is a less acceptable, but if it is implemented in the form of a refundable tax that is returned to the consumer when the packaging is returned for recycling, then it might encourage less waste and litter.

What is wrong in my mind is an outright ban.  Whether one is referring to plastic shopping bags, incandescent light bulbs, or cosmetic use of fertilizer and herbicides, the government should not be looking at blanket prohibitions.  If the goal is to reduce waste, send the consumer price signals instead.

BTW…In addition to re-using plastic grocery bags in our household, we also have a collection of re-usable bags.  The one thing we do try to avoid is small containers of pop or bottled water in order to both reduce expenses and our environmental footprint.