February 06, 2013

Plastic Bag bans

We just got one in Bellingham, WA. Seattle enacted one a few years ago.
I really hate progressivism — all ideology+now and no facts+perspective. From Bloomberg:

The Disgusting Consequences of Plastic-Bag Bans
Conservatives often point out that laws, no matter how benign they may appear, have unintended consequences. They can reverberate in ways that not many people foresaw and nobody wanted: Raising the minimum wage can increase unemployment; prohibition can create black markets.

The efforts in many cities to discourage the use of plastic bags demonstrate that such unintended consequences can be, among other things, kind of gross.

San Francisco has been discouraging plastic bags since 2007, saying that it takes too much oil to make them and that used bags pollute waterways and kill marine animals. In 2012, it strengthened its law. Several West Coast cities, including Seattle and Los Angeles, have also adopted bans for environmental reasons. The government of Washington, D.C., imposes a 5 cent plastic-bag tax. (Advocates prefer to call it a “fee” because taxes are unpopular.) Environmental groups and celebrity activists, including Eva Longoria and Julia Louis- Dreyfus, support these laws.

And the pesky facts:

Most alarmingly, the industry has highlighted news reports linking reusable shopping bags to the spread of disease. Like this one, from the Los Angeles Times last May: “A reusable grocery bag left in a hotel bathroom caused an outbreak of norovirus-induced diarrhea and nausea that struck nine of 13 members of a girls’ soccer team in October, Oregon researchers reported Wednesday.” The norovirus may not have political clout, but evidently it, too, is rooting against plastic bags.

Warning of disease may seem like an over-the-top scare tactic, but research suggests there’s more than anecdote behind this industry talking point. In a 2011 study, four researchers examined reusable bags in California and Arizona and found that 51 percent of them contained coliform bacteria. The problem appears to be the habits of the reusers. Seventy-five percent said they keep meat and vegetables in the same bag. When bags were stored in hot car trunks for two hours, the bacteria grew tenfold.

And not just sick:

Klick and Wright estimate that the San Francisco ban results in a 46 percent increase in deaths from foodborne illnesses, or 5.5 more of them each year. They then run through a cost-benefit analysis employing the same estimate of the value of a human life that the Environmental Protection Agency uses when evaluating regulations that are supposed to save lives. They conclude that the anti-plastic-bag policies can’t pass the test — and that’s before counting the higher health-care costs they generate.

Given that the plastic bags degenerate after a year or two in the landfill, this is a moot issue. I am waiting for some resource company to start bidding on digging up old landfills to salvage the metals and organics. First company to be able to do this right will become very very rich very very quickly.

Posted by DaveH at February 6, 2013 09:23 PM
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