Policy: Environment & Energy

Plastic bag bans help nanny-staters, not the environment

|
Op-Eds,Big Government,Energy and Environment,Government Regulation

If you favor higher costs, damaging the environment, and dropping the regulatory boom unnecessarily on everything in sight, then plastic bag bans are right up your alley.

A new study put out by the National Center for Policy Analysis lays out the damage done by plastic bag bans supported by nanny-staters who deem it their sovereign duty to regulate every aspect of Americans' lives. And the results aren't pretty.

The study’s author, H. Sterling Burnett, notes that plastic “bag bans are bad for the environment,” and that “the alternatives – paper bags and reusable bags – use more energy, use more resources, produce more greenhouse gases, and produce more waste and pollution than plastic grocery bags.”

The research looked at cities that have banned plastic bags for tests on their impact, both economic and environmental. Those locales, including San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Austin, Texas, found “no evidence of a reduction of costs attributable to reduced use of plastic bags."

Dive further into the study and you’ll find city-by-city charts making clear that higher costs have accompanied bans and the impositions of fees on plastic bags.

Litter collection and waste disposal rates have remained constant, leaving taxpayers with higher costs and local governments nothing to show for their efforts.

Beyond the economic aspect of the equation, the study also details the environmental cost of exacting bag bans. The alternatives to plastic — paper and reusable bags — each create more greenhouse gas emissions than plastic bags, yet radicals have branded plastic as the environmental boogeyman.

Meanwhile, in the face of that evidence, the Democrats who control the California Legislature have indicated that they plan a continued push to make plastic bag bans state policy. In fact, a bill from state Sen. Alex Padilla prohibiting plastic bags fell just 3 votes shy earlier this year; now he’s saying it's “only a matter of time” before it becomes law.

Some 2,000 workers are employed by plastic bag producers and distributors in the state alone. They’ll be the ones left to deal with the consequences.

Rashied Yuine, one such worker facing potential unemployment if a ban becomes law, recently took to YouTube to make a powerful point to those who'd wipe out an entire industry in the state. In short, it could be summarized as “eliminate your job before mine.”

Of course, the California bill pushed by Padilla for five years carries a caveat only a nanny state could take seriously: Food stamp recipients would be exempt from the ban. Why? As if to say their plastic bags are different, the law would “have a negative impact on low income families."

That’s the logic confronting studies that clearly illustrate why bag bans are a net loser across the spectrum — bad for both taxpayers and the environment. Thus far their efforts have taken hold in cities across the nation. Statewide implementation is a line in the sand we just can’t afford to cross.

David Williams is the president of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to educating the public through the research, analysis and dissemination of information on the government's effects on the economy.
View article comments Leave a comment