Plastic Bag Bans ‘Present Hidden Environmental, Economic Costs’

by | Feb 7, 2012

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Plastic bag bans incur hidden economic and environmental costs that are “virtually ignored,” according to conservative think tank the National Center for Policy Analysis.

More than two dozen cities – including Seattle and San Francisco – have enacted bans or imposed fees for using such bags, but anecdotal evidence suggests that curbs on plastic bags has affected commerce in the cities where such laws have been enacted, according to a column by NCPA senior fellow H. Sterling Burnett on Waste & Recycling news’ web site.

In the current economic conditions the use of plastic bags could save U.S. jobs, according to Burnett. China is the world’s largest manufacturer of reusable bags, while many plastic bags are made on American soil. Bag bans could then be “handing China control of yet another industry” while threatening U.S. jobs, according to Burnett.  Evidence also suggests that, without appropriate care, reusable bags can be a breeding ground for bacteria.

Burnett also argues that plastic bags – regularly referred to as “single-use” – are rarely used just one time. Bags are regularly used as trash bags, lunch bags and for picking up pet waste, Burnett says. If easy access to plastic bags is curbed it will only lead to increased sales of trash bags and baggies, he argues.

However, according to Plastics Today, there is likely to be an increase in bans and curbs on bag use in 2012 – San Francisco is currently looking to extend its partial ban on single use bags.  According to a piece on the Science 2.0 web site, while outright bans may not be a perfect solution, they do offer a “useful way to begin reducing waste pollution.”

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