Is California in a contest? Watching its legislators, I wonder if they compete with other state lawmakers to see who can bankrupt their state first.
Felicity Barringer reports that California’ State Assembly has passed a bill that will:
“not only ban plastic bags from pharmacies, groceries, convenience stores and liquor stores, but also to make retailers charge at least a nickel for paper bags — which must include recyclable content. … California has gone further toward an overall ban than any other state.”
Supermarkets are not fighting the law. When dumb rules apply to all businesses, they just pass the cost on to consumers. But now several California cities passed their own bans, and the confusion annoys store managers.
"This multiplicity of local laws prompted the California Grocers’ Association, which counts retailers like Safeway, Trader Joe’s, Costco, Whole Foods and 7-Eleven among its members, to seek the kind of uniformity the Brownley bill offered. The American Chemistry Council, however, remains opposed. “The last thing California consumers need right now is to have what amounts to a $1 billion tax added to their grocery bills,” the group’s senior director, Tim Shestek, said in a statement. He added, “It’s astounding to think the Legislature is seriously considering creating a new $1 million bureaucracy to monitor how people choose to pack their groceries."'
David Harsanyi of the Denver Post says that the ban is utterly pointless.
“Plastic bags account for under 1 percent of our refuse. So it's not that big a deal to begin with. But more than that, in places where they do ban plastic bags, we find that people start buying more plastic bags. People need some sort of bag.”
Right. An Irish garbage bag manufacturer said after a tax on grocery store bags went into effect:
“We’ve experienced a growth [in sales] of 300-400%. It’s been phenomenal. You can trace it back to when the bag levy came in.”
The Times story says:
“Plastic bags are associated with litter, ocean-borne waste and harm to marine mammals that ingest them or become entangled in them…”
In fact, the idea that many marine mammals die from plastic bags comes from a misinterpretation of a 23-year-old Canadian study that didn’t even mention plastic bags. The author of a 1997 study on the subject said:
“The impact of bags on whales, dolphins, porpoises and seals ranges from nil for most species to very minor for perhaps a few species. For birds, plastic bags are not a problem either."
Someday, the world will cite California as a role model for self-destruction.
Today, however, environmental correctness is powerful:
"China and Bangladesh already have plastic bag bans in place, and the United Nations has called for the bans to go global."