Legislature should have heeded Brit regulators on plastic bags

Legislature should have heeded Brit regulators on plastic bags

10-ten-myths-about-plastic-bags1Dubious bills often get passed on the final night of the state legislative session, and 2014 was no exception:

A measure to make California the first state in the nation to ban single-use plastic bags. SB270 passed despite fierce opposition from plastic bag manufacturers and after initially failing an Assembly vote last week. Brown has until Sept. 30 to act on the bill.

Many cities and counties already have local bag ordinances, including San Francisco. The bill by Senate Democrats phases out the use of plastic bags, beginning at grocery stores and pharmacies in July 2015 and the following year at convenience stores and liquor stores.

“A throw-away society is not sustainable,” Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Pacoima, one of the bill’s authors, said in a statement. “SB270 will greatly reduce the flow of billions of single-use plastic bags that are discarded throughout our state. This is good for California and reflects our values as a state that cares about the environment, sea life and wildlife.”

That’s from the San Francisco Chronicle. Note the Chron reporter’s POV is plain in the first sentence, which accepts the premise that they really are “single-use” bags.

British regulators dismiss theory driving state legislation

Now let’s go somewhere far from California to get a sober take on the plastic bag argument: the United Kingdom’s Environment Agency, which has a very liberal reputation on issues like global warming and water pollution. Here’s a short list of some of what it’s concluded over the years:

1. Any decision to ban traditional polyethylene plastic grocery bags in favor of bags made from alternative materials (compostable plastic or recycled paper) will be counterproductive and result in a significant increase in environmental impacts across a number of categories from global warming effects to the use of precious potable water resources.  … other mitigating circumstances …  may lead to even greater differentials between plastic grocery bags and those made from either paper or compostable plastics.  … the standard polyethylene grocery bag has significantly lower environmental impacts than a 30% recycled content paper bag and a compostable plastic bag.

2. A cotton bag has a greater [adverse environmental] impact than the conventional HDPE [plastic] bag in seven of the nine impact categories even when used 173 times … The impact was considerably larger in categories such as acidification and aquatic & terrestrial ecotoxicity due to the energy used to produce cotton yarn and the fertilisers used during the growth of the cotton.

3. Starch-polyester blend bags have a higher global warming potential and abiotic depletion than conventional polymer bags, due both to the increased weight of material in a bag and higher material production impacts.

Feel-good lawmaking devoid of evidence

So why is California on the bring of enacting a dumb law? Because it is the nature of the environmental movement to constantly look for ways to demonstrate its moral superiority. This is a prime opportunity — forcing people to change a minor part of their everyday life in service of the Green Cause.

They do so even though their main arguments have been debunked. Plastic bags are less than 1 percent of the municipal waste stream. And, no, those alleged plastic flotillas in the ocean don’t come from “single-use plastic bags.”

Says who? Says the scientists who work for the Obama administration at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Here’s the NOAA fact check page.

What’s particularly enlightening about the page is that it casually debunks another claim of anti-plastic bag crowd: Plastic debris’ ” impacts on marine life mostly remain a big unknown.”

Not to California greens. They know what their religion says is true. Whether or not it’s, yunno, true.


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  1. Ted Steele, Editor
    Ted Steele, Editor 1 September, 2014, 09:38

    Plastic bags are forever— bad for the environment!

    Reply this comment
    • Novaks47
      Novaks47 2 September, 2014, 06:32

      Please do explain, how polyethylene lasts “forever”, particularly when exposed to sunlight.I’d also like to know how something lasting forever is bad for the environment. Tell us, how EXACTLY does a bag sitting on the ground, or any trash for that matter, hurt the environment.

      Reply this comment
  2. Ted Steele, Editor
    Ted Steele, Editor 1 September, 2014, 09:38

    Congrats to the Surfrider Foundation and the legislature!!

    Reply this comment
  3. Queeg
    Queeg 1 September, 2014, 13:42

    After the minimum wage goes through the moon and the carbon tax makes your gas tank approach platinum value……brown bagging will make a huge comeback as well as those infernal Tupperware Parties hosted by Berkley Stepford Wives adorned in bib overalls and East L.A. style strapless t-shirts.

    Shall they be plastic or brown paper….come on….”brown”….hands down paper disease bags will thin the gullible penny pinching population….

    Reply this comment
  4. Maxine Lynch
    Maxine Lynch 1 September, 2014, 15:15

    This is foolish. So, the “bagger” at the store is going to put all of my purchases back into the basket and take it to my car and pack it in my trunk? I refuse to pay for paper bags, and don’t have time to gather up cloth bags that aren’t even big enough for many purchases – besides not being sanitary.(blood dripping from meat etc.)
    If they were serious, (instead of just plain mean) they would insist on recycling milk jugs, detergent bottles etc. And, if they don’t want plastic in the land fill, they would ban those “tough” Glad bags,and while they are at it – disposable diapers, and the Depends they must all wear!

    Reply this comment
  5. Ed W
    Ed W 1 September, 2014, 23:00

    Write to the governor to veto the law. It might be a long shot, but that’s all we got.


    Reply this comment
  6. Ted Steele, Editor
    Ted Steele, Editor 2 September, 2014, 21:11

    veto on this bill will kill the paperbag industry!

    Reply this comment
    • Maxine Lynch
      Maxine Lynch 3 September, 2014, 08:28

      One of the few remaining businesses in our small city is Roplast, who manufactures plastic bags for every grocery, department and specialty store in the country. We need for these people to have jobs to help our small town economy.

      Reply this comment
      • John Starch
        John Starch 3 September, 2014, 14:41

        Hopefully this company can innovate and retool its manufacturing to create a sustainable business practice making reusable plastic bags, thus keeping those job, potentially creating more jobs and helping develop green and sustainable jobs. This is the type of innovation that could be created while protecting the environment.

        Reply this comment
  7. Donkey
    Donkey 2 September, 2014, 21:21

    Fools of the RAGWUS!! 🙂

    Reply this comment
  8. Queeg
    Queeg 3 September, 2014, 21:02


    You prayed to the fascist idols on too too many Earth Days….your rant could sicken a true industrialist out there in the world providing millions of jobs, products, etc.

    The rant was right out of Enviro 101….pitiful-

    Reply this comment

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