Oct 11 - WSJ Features Bag Ban Debate

When it comes to dealing with plastic bags, many people have already taken a position on the issue.

Those who support plastic bag reduction include local governments tired of paying for bag litter and stormwater system cleanups, and citizens who (environmentalist or not) want a cleaner world that is not strewn with plastic bags in street gutters, along fences and highways, and at the beach.

Those who are against bag reductions include, of course, the companies that profit from the sales of the items which are distributed "free" by retailers, as well as citizens who may feel that the government is limiting their carryout bag choices.

But what may not be clear to some in opposition is the fact that, first of all, these bags are not free. Retailers in CA alone spend an estimated $243 million each year on these bags—they subsidize this cost through increased product prices.

Moreover, plastic bags in the environment cost millions more for street cleanups, stormwater system maintenance, nuisance management in the waste management system, and recycling machine repairs when the bags get caught in conveyor belts. There are better options to single-use plastic bags.

In case you missed it, common arguments from the two opposing sides were highlighted recently in a Wall Street Journal article.

The pro-ban position, written by Plastics Pollution Coalition founder Daniella Russo, discusses the major economic and environmental costs of plastic bags, which CAW agree are reason enough to do away with them.

The anti-ban position, written by Washington Policy Center director Todd Myers, overlooks the fact that plastic bags have a disproportionate impact on the environment despite their compact and lightweight qualities.

Myers also highlighted a study from the United Kingdom comparing cotton reusable bags to single-use bags. This study, however, failed to include other reusable bags that have lower environmental impact, such as recycled content polyethylene reusable bags.

Check out this California study (yes, there are recent bag studies that have actually been written in the US and are thus more relevant and accurate in their assumptions) that showed some reusable bags need to only be used 8 times to have lower environmental impact than a plastic bag.

Read an article and join the debate on WSJ.