The latest industry ‘pseudo-study’ re-hashes fact errors, misstatements, and outdated speculation to conclude that the effort to phase-out single use plastic grocery bags won’t save money and will be bad for the environment.
The results of real-world implementation say otherwise.
“Do Bans on Plastic Grocery Bags Save Cities Money?” by H. Sterling Burnett, of the Koch Brothers funded National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA), is the latest effort to undermine the growing and successful movement to ban single use plastic grocery bags.
However, we no longer have to speculate on the impacts of phasing out plastic grocery bags, because this policy is a reality in dozens of California cities and counties. The adoption of Bag ordinances have been the subject of vigorous environmental review (as required by California law), and their implementation has resulted in clear environmental and economic benefits.
The experience of California communities demonstrates that phasing out single-use plastic grocery bags reduces litter and waste and saves consumers and taxpayers money, with none of the “unintended consequences” suggested by the plastics industry and their minions at NCPA.
Los Angeles County’s ordinance has reduced single-use grocery bags by 90%, saving consumers more than $4.8 million this past year alone.
“This significant reduction in consumption of single use bags helps reduce bag litter and other environmental impacts at the source,“ says Coby Skye, LA County Senior Civil Engineer.
San Jose reported 59-60% less plastic bag litter in creeks and streams, one year after implementation.
San Francisco’s most recent street litter audit found an 18% reduction in plastic bags from 2007-2009.
“The growing number of cities in California and across the country approving bans on single use plastic bags to protect the environment, together with courts upholding these policies, have led the plastics industry to desperate new tactics of funding flawed and misleading reports.” said Jack Macy, San Francisco Department of Environment’s Senior Commercial Zero Waste Coordinator.
• Ninety cities and counties across California have adopted plastic bag bans, representing one-third of the state’s population. These policies have already ensured the elimination of more than 6 billion plastic grocery bags annually.
• Every environmental analysis to-date has concluded that the production of plastic grocery bags generates more pollution (including GHG emissions) than an equivalent capacity of paper bags. Even the plastic industry funded study (cited by NCPA) found that the production of plastic bags generates 20% more GHG than the production of paper bags.
• In 2000, California stores were generating in excess of 30 billion plastic bags annually. Today, local bans and consumer education have cut plastic bag distribution in half. In 2014, we are projecting that plastic bag generation will fall below 10 billion for the first time since the early 1980s.
• Based on the industry’s own environmental impact analysis, the elimination of 18 billion plastic bags in California since 2000 has saved the equivalent of 480,000 tons of CO2 from being released into our atmosphere and 84,000 tons of plastic from being littered or landfilled.
The effort to phase out single-use grocery bags has been the subject of similar attacks by the plastics industry in the past—attacks that rely on misinformation and faulty data designed to support their own conclusions.
The report’s author, H. Sterling Burnett, is a die-hard climate change denier. He has compared Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” to Joseph Goebell’s Nazi propaganda films and downplayed the serious nature of the Gulf Oil Spill, saying it was “hyped” by environmentalists in order to promote tax increases.
Mr. Burnett’s report is another in a series of misleading and fact bereft attacks on the successful efforts of local governments to reduce a significant and preventable source of marine pollution and waste. The public and policy makers aren’t going to be swayed by industry propaganda on this issue. They can see for themselves that the elimination of tens of billions of plastic bags in California is working to reduce litter and waste.