Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Save the environment: Bag the ban

Save the environment, Vote or say no to bag bans or taxes.

There has been a new political fad spreading around the world. It is not about reviving the economy from the 2008 mortgage crash fallout. Its not about bring back jobs and lowering the unemployment rate. It is not even about repairing the broken health care system. A hot topic for the politicians now a days involves an everyday used item. The plastic bag. Yep the plastic shopping bag, even with all these political problems and many states and local areas on the brink of bankruptcy, The politicians are targeting this everyday item supermarkets and retail stores use to hold customers loose groceries in after they checkout for convenience and hygiene issues and to separate purchased items from non purchased ones to prevent theft both intentional and unintentional.

Just as with many nanny laws abound. This is trend is spreading like out of control wildfire. It seems like many politicians are interesting in sweating the small stuff when there is so much bigger issues to worry about.The argument for the ban by many government organizations include but not limited to the use of oil to produce them, littering on the streets, on open land, and oceans, burden on landfills, how plastic is not biodegradable and more. Though many of these claims are exaggerated claims as there is good data that plastic bags are not made from oil its actually made from natural gas, plastic bags can be made compostable, plastic bags are very useful and recyclable if done properly and its rather reusable for the population. Compared to other litter and trash in cities it is relatively difficult to find bags floating around. While in fact according to American Chemistry council, Keep America beautiful,  and various local litter studies bags account for less than 1% of litter which is puny consideringh styrofoam  consists of 15% and used Cigarette butts at a whopping 36.3% While these claims do get reported on the news however the news media is often censored in someways by the politicians and supporting special interest groups to avoid or reduce protraying the negative side of bag bans. Ironically on news website discussions the majority of the posts are negative regarding the ban however mainstream news sources often state there had been few complaints and the population is generally supportive of the change. Therefore they are truly covering up the truth. The hard truth is not only that thr majority is opposed to these taxes or bans, also that such bans and taxes can actually be much more harm then good for the world. I can show you why below.

While the tax or ban proponents claim these as single use bags that get thrown away after each use plastic bags  actually have a lot of uses beside just carrying items one way home. In fact come to think of it plastic bags seem to be among the most reusable plastic made items compared to any other plastic items one can find in the store. Plastic bags can be used to hold garbage, hold dirty items together, contain leaks, separate raw meat from each other and other items, hold wet items, the list goes on and on. I just wonder why not require food manufactures to use biodegradable food containers as these plastic packaging, unlike plastic bags, can only be used for its purposes once and is harder and longer to biodegrade and are harmful to those who consume the food in them. There are much more dangerous plastics such as the elastics that hold together six pack cans that can tangle marine life and these are far less biodegradable. If it wasn't for plastic bags holding these trash items together there would even be more litter laying around as they are not held and compressed together in a tied up plastic bag. Also landfills will fill up quicker resulting in overflowing trash in the landscape and increase demand to build more landfills which will damage the environment more. I travel to the most littered part of cities and I easily notice many of the trash along side roads rarely are plastic bags themselves but usually trashed contents of what a bag once held.

Its actually relatively easy to see the negative side if one search the news articles if one looks harder on the news sources the ones given less attention by mainstream news anchors. Many places that "ban" the plastic bag actually had issues with the plastic waste actually increasing after the bag ban. There had been incidences of people hoarding plastic bags to cope with their needs. There are also people who where used to reusing store plastic bags as trash can liners instead buying larger thicker bags to do the same job which take more energy to make and even worse to the environment. According to Bastiatinstitute San Francisco actually has increased pollution from plastic after its 2007 ban took effect, same thing happens with Ireland, Washington DC, and recently Hong Kong(tax levy being tested at select supermarkets) has seen greater plastic bag pollution greater amounts of garbage in landfills after they enacted bans or taxes. Plastic bag bans also increases the use of paper, cloth, or other material bags which can have their own harmful effects to health and environment which can become devastating if these become used in high quantities all of a sudden as a result from the bans. For example many so called "reusable" bags had been tested to contain alarming amounts of lead and fecel matters and paper bags increase co2. Another issue is that it would actually hinder efforts to engineer more environmental friendly plastic products. For example in places like California localities are required to recycle plastic bags however they are exempt from these efforts if they ban plastic bags therefore bans actually hinders efforts to develop and improve recycling techniques which also threatens many green job positions. Also it means the plastic manufacturing industry would lose funds to develop more recyclable or compostible products this goes far beyond merely plastic bags. In the end this means more harm than help for the environment after all.

So in the end the best solution anywhere particularly in a capitalist part of the world the best idea is to reward good behavior than punish. Taxes and bans create more of a problem than an answer. A kind of resembling the security "theatre" influenza created in the US and parts of the world in the years following 9/11. Countries and regional legislators should instead focus on creating incentives to to sped up development for safe biodegradable packaging for food products and other products for manufactures. For the issue of California instead of trying to ban plastic and charging for paper the state should instead have a cash pay policy for those who bring plastic or paper for recycling, composting, or reuse just as with cans and bottles recycling. This would get many people not only turning in their own bags but picking up littered bags and other plastics from the streets and be rewarded with pay. Also there should be rewards such as tax breaks for manufactures and grocery chains to develop biodegradable environment and health safe food containers and bags. Therefore in conclusion it is crucial to tackle the issue from the source and not punish the end user that's how civilized republic should act.

No comments:

Post a Comment