Are Plastic Bag Bans Helpful? Think Twice

Are Plastic Bag Bans Helpful? Think Twice

by The Standard SC

Twelve years ago, San Francisco became the first city in the US to ban plastic bags in a very controversial vote which was mocked by almost everybody across the country. Fast forward to today and the bans are being celebrated across the country, including around the coast of conservative South Carolina. Richland County has passed the ban in its first reading and is poised to make it the law. Lexington County appears to be headed in the same direction.

While a feel-good law such as this seemingly improves our environment and therefore our “livelihood,” at what price are we willing to give up our personal liberty and hurt our businesses?

To get this out of the way – I am very environmentally conscious and I use reusable cloth bags when I go grocery shopping.

Here are some facts about plastic bag use. First, research shows that when plastic bags are eliminated, the option of reusing them disappears. What happens? Consumers now spend their own hard-earned dollars on buying garbage can liners from the shelves of stores. These liners include different toxic scents and use more plastic to create them which is a harmful environmental impact which adds to the production process.

Second, the environmental cost of producing plastic bag alternatives is immense. According to a recent study from the “green” Denmark Ministry of Environment and Food (Feb. 2018), paper and reusable polypropylene bags must be used 45 times and conventional cotton bags must be used 7,100 times to offset the environmental impacts on manufacturing them as opposed to one plastic bag.

Third, the elimination of plastic bags causes a dramatic increase in paper bags. Would you rather continue to have clear-cutting of trees or a random plastic bag swirling in the wind? In addition, paper bags are heavier, 1,000 same-sized paper bags cost approximately 10x more in diesel fuel to ship than their plastic counterparts.

Environmental impacts aside, this is also a question of encroaching on the individual. From mom and pop stores to large retailers, the cost of using plastic bags is dramatically more on business operations. According to a study from The University of Texas, Michigan Technological University and the Environmental Protection Agency – the cost of shipping for 1,000 paper bags is approximately 9x more than plastic.

The actual cost for the bags is 6.6x more. As you might guess, the companies do not simply absorb the cost increases. These increases will hit you directly or else companies will cause harm. Either way, businesses will be disrupted and many will have a loss in revenue far greater in midlands areas than the coastal areas where tourists come with open wallets.

One could say that plastic bags cause harm to marine life, but so do many other things. Are you prepared for the government to ban cans, bottles and certain coolers among many other products? Are you prepared for the government to put in place certain limits on miles per gallon? Your response may be, yeah right… Remember, 12 years ago, banning plastic bags was a joke.

Think twice before you allow more government encroachment and if you feel as passionate as I do, make your voice heard.

Which country puts the most plastic in the ocean?