Beginning as early as July of 2011, the Bulgarian Government will impose a tax of 0.15 on Bulgaria's leva (Bulgarian currency - €0.07) per plastic bag, increasing to 0.35 leva (€0.18) next year, to 0.45 leva (€0.23) in 2013, and up to 0.55 leva (€0.28) a year later, reports PRW. The progressive legislation is designed to help Bulgaria, which has one of the highest per capita uses of plastic bags in the European Union, with the growing waste problem and proliferation of plastic packaging waste. The country’s environmental ministry hopes the fee will deter the widespread consumption of plastic overall.
Similarly, the Bulgarian parliament has also amended other refuse related orders, including regulations on packaging waste, automotive waste, the treatment and transportation of waste from batteries and accumulators and the treatment of end of life electrical and electronic equipment.
Grocery store chains including Kroger and Safeway are beginning to move away from the pennies-per-bag rebates they once supplied, saying they don't do enough to prevent customers from forgetting reusables in their cars or at home. In order to avoid plastic-bag bans and taxes, which could potentially cost supermarkets or their customers more money, many chains opted for rebates (credits), but they didn't produce the results owners hoped for.
Company officials said customer feedback indicates most want to use reusable bags, but it’s a matter of making it a habit. Kroger is utilizing plastic bag recycling containers and sprinkling parking lots with signs asking, "Are your reusable bags still in the car?" Kroger also holds bag design contests and giveaways and sends shoppers coupons for reusable bags.
Read about our stance on the downsides of cheap reusables here.
Persistently avoiding plastic may seem key to combating over-consumption and the production of plastic-based materials, but, in reality, the issue is far more complex. In a recent Op-Ed piece, Susan Freinkel, a New York Times contributor and author of the forthcoming book Plastic: A Toxic Love Story, dispels the common misconception that suggests shunning plastic and settling for bag bans and fees will drastically alter the ethos of our culture.
Instead, Freinkel advocates for shifting the public perception of plastic as cheap and worthless to durable and profitable by eliminating its presence in disposables.
Check out our "I'm not a . . ." or "Thank you" series, which offer affordable, sustainable alternatives to use-and-toss disposables like plastic bottles and bags.
Bangalore, a city in south central India, recently implemented a ban on plastic bags of less than 40 microns that seems to have little effect on Bangaloreans. According to the notification from Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB), March 15 was the deadline for banning such bags; but city folks were seen carrying bags of even less than 20 microns despite the ordinance.
The previous provision focused on a thickness limit of 20 microns, but now the recent Plastic Handling Rules of 2011 mandates that manufacturers do not produce plastic below 40 microns in thickness. Without proper enforcement and continual awareness, shop-owners and consumers remain resistant to the newly modified ban.
Following California's attempts to implement a statewide legislation to reduce consumption and distribution of plastic bags, Marin County and others continue to battle over effective methods of local regulation. Meanwhile, opposition groups like the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition pose a challenge.
Save the Plastic Bag Coalition (a plastics industry front group) filed suit against Marin County Feb. 24 over the plastic bag ordinance that the county's Board of Supervisors adopted in January, according to Plasticbaglaws.org. However, Marin County isn't the only one being targeted. The STPB has threatened and/or sued every California city that adopted a plastic bag ordinance after statewide legislation failed, leaving counties to consider their own bag fees and bans.
The Hawaii County Council advanced a bill that would make the island of Hawaii the third island to prohibit retailers from distributing plastic bags to consumers for free. However, the bill has been met with controversy as councilmen and retail merchants battle over penalty provisions and enforcements. In Kauai County, its council is already revising its bag ban less than a month after it went into effect in order to address complications that surfaced.
Despite controversy, Maui and Kauai implemented plastic bag bans January, 11, 2011, which have been praised by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for reducing waste and preventing plastic from accumulating in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, potentially harming turtles and other marine life.
Earlier this month Italy took a dramatic step to reduce its consumption of single- use, non-biodegradable plastic bags – use of such bags is now banned as of New Year’s Day. According to several reports, Italy was one of Europe’s top plastic bag consumers – using about 1/5th of the 100 billion bags used annually across Europe.
Despite opposition from some retailers who argue that biodegradable bags are too expensive and not as durable, similar bans in other countries have proven successful. According to Treehugger, China’s bag ban has kept 100 billion bags out of the landfill since its inception two years ago.
Bag fees have also proved successful over the years – from Washington DC’s recent 5 cent fee to Ireland’s PlasTax back in 2002.
While we applaud Italy’s effort to curb wasteful consumption of plastic shopping bags, we continue to advocate plastic bag fees and taxes over bans for the following reasons:
Fees are market-based solutions that get people to change their consumption habits – and with a nudge not a shove. Even small, 5-cent fees make a huge impact.
Fees are practical for the consumer.
There is evidence that fees can be adopted in the U.S., and they work! We have an example of a major city (D.C.) reducing consumption of use-and-toss bags by 80% with a small fee.
The money collected from fees can go directly toward addressing the problem.
If you don’t like the idea of your money going to fatten government coffers, no problem. Bring your own bag, and they don’t get a dime.
U.S. territory American Samoa has signed a law banning stores from handing out plastic shopping bags.
The law will take effect Feb. 23, and excludes biodegradable shopping bags and compostable plastic bags.
This ban was signed only a few days after California rejected a very similar law, although a growing number of California cities have taken steps to ban bags at a local level. Some of these cities include San Francisco, Palo Alto, Malibu, and others.
Our Take: We like their commitment to reducing consumption, however it's fees - not bans - that are the best way to go. Ireland's PlasTax reduced plastic bag consumption by 90% in its first year alone.
"Wal-Mart charging for plastic bags is now reality for shoppers in
Northern California's Folsom, Ukiah and Citrus Heights. Wal-Mart
grocery bags may soon cost a few pennies in other areas as well. Are
Californians ready? What
appears like a lofty goal - the overall waste reduction of 33% by 2013
- may well be accomplished one bag at a time. With Wal-Mart charging
for plastic bags, the retailer implements the second phase of its "bring your ownbag" movement that started back in October. As reported by the Sacramento Bee, Wal-Mart strongly encouraged consumers to bring their own bags when buying. At this point, encouragement gives way to cash incentives. Wal-Mart charges for bags at the rate of 15 cents; over-sized bags retail for 50 cents. The jury is still out whether Wal-Mart charging for bags will be a project that also finds its way into the remaining 52 stores..."
Our Take: Financial incentives to encourage people to carry reusable bags are smart. Like successful fee models, such as Ireland's Plastax, incentives have the potential to reduce the consumption of use-and-toss shopping bags dramatically.
The Kauai, Hawaii County Council voted to ban plastic "carryout bags," in a bill requiring that "retailers - from mini marts to plate-lunch spots, pharmacies, liquor stores and supermarkets - may offer only biodegradable plastic, 100-percent recyclable paper or reusable tote bags at checkout. Retailers can choose to charge for the bags. The bill goes into effect on January 11, 2011."
“Florida environmental officials want to make the state the
first in the nation to prohibit throwaway plastic and paper bags. The proposed
ban would follow a five-year phaseout, during which escalating fees, starting at
a nickel a bag, would be imposed whenever such bags were used… By the fifth and
final year of the state’s proposed phaseout, anyone wanting a paper or plastic
bag for merchandise would be charged a quarter a bag.”
CVS joins the growing list of retailers offering customers
incentives for bringing reusable bags. The company is implementing a green bag
card system. For every four shopping trips with a cloth reusable bag, the
customer will receive a coupon for $1. There's also word that Target stores
are offering a 5-cent credit for every reusable bag used.
“Out of sight, out of mind. Plastic bags officially vanished
from Palo Alto grocery stores Friday, and customers scarcely noticed them
missing… Although the city ban on plastic shopping bags went into effect on
Friday, all seven of the city’s full-service groceries had already made the
switch to offering only paper and reusable bags. On Friday afternoon, customers
were using both, happily.”
Two weeks ago, our founder got a call from Seattle mayor, Greg Nickels, asking for our help in supporting the Seattle bag fee. It's based on Ireland's successful PlasTax, which reduced plastic bag consumption by over 90% - the plastic bag industry is doing everything it can to defeat this measure.
Originally set to take effect Jan 1st of this year, the bag fee was stalled by the plastic bag industry – who’s spent more than $250,000 to preserve their interest in the mindless consumption of throwaway bags. They’ve been successful in stalling or diverting every major initiative proposed in recent years, from San Francisco to Los Angeles.
The Seattle bag fee gets voted on August 18 and we’re doing everything we can to support it. In the six years this company has been around, the Seattle bag fee is the most important piece of legislation we’ve seen. Seattle’s proposed fee is a pure model – taxing plastic and paper bags with a significant 20-cent fee. The initiative will set a trailblazing precedent for cities across the U.S. if it’s re-instated.
We realize you may not live in Seattle, but please consider making a contribution. After all, the opponent's money is coming from outside Seattle. Let's show them that it's not just big industry that's interested in this race, but environmentalists across the nation as well.
Purchase from our store – We’ve committed to donating 1% of sales to the campaign between now and the Aug 18th vote.
Spread the word: If you’re a reporter or blogger, cover the story. Forward this story on to friends. Don’t let these guys win!
Our Take: We’ll do everything in our power to defeat plastic bag industry interests and push through this landmark bag fee. If successful, Seattle may prove to be the tipping point for cities across the nation – and the world.
Listen to the voicemail from the Seattle mayor here & watch a great video they produced about the history of the plastic bag:
Plastic retail bags may soon be a thing of the past - or at least, a costly luxury - in Philadelphia.
Under a contentious measure being brought before City Council today, shoppers would be charged 25 cents for every plastic bag they receive at any store. Businesses with more than $1 million in annual sales would give 75 percent of the fees to the city; smaller stores could keep the fees.
Our Take: Unfortunately, the Philadelphia bag initiative failed to pass through the Philadelphia City Council on May 14. Industry interests once again derailed a promising effort to reduce consumption. Like Seattle, Philadelphia’s initiative would have imposed a 25-cent fee on plastic bags, significant enough to curb consumption. Read more about Seattle’s upcoming bag fee vote here.
National supermarket chain Kroger is running a "Design Your Own Reusable Bag" contest at locations across the country. The winner gets $1000 gift card and may see his or her design on one of the 99-cent reusable bags sold in Kroger stores. As the second largest retailer in the country, Kroger is positioned to make a real difference in plastic (and paper) bag over-consumption.
Unfortunately, digging a little deeper reveals that the super-chain's efforts are another disappointing example of green-washing. Kroger continues to use plastic bags at thousands of stores nationwide. And the cheap reusable bags they sell do little to solve the problems plastic and paper bags. If the conglomerate was serious about cutting mindless consumption, they would follow in the steps of Ikea or Whole Foods - two corporations doing the hard work to kick our dependence on plastic bags, instead of using the now-trendy reusables movement as a PR opportunity.
Our Take: In a sea of green-washing, our advice remains what it's been for 6 years - buy a handful of high quality reusable bags you will use for years from a company you trust. Read more about the trouble with cheap reusable bags flooding the market here.
Palo Alto's crusade against plastic bags faced its first legal challenge Tuesday, when a coalition of groups filed a lawsuit claiming that the city acted too rashly when it banned plastic bags from local grocery stores last month.
Our Take: The Save the Plastic Bag Coalition strikes again…first Los Angeles, then Santa Monica, now Palo Alto – the lawsuit-happy group may be stalling city initiatives to reduce consumption of bags, but all eyes are on efforts across the country to adopt reusable bags.
"Paper or reusable?" is the question Palo Alto shoppers will face at grocery checkout counters beginning in September.
The city council Monday night voted 7-1 to ban plastic bags at supermarkets in hopes of reducing the stream of harmful litter in local creeks and the San Francisco Bay.
Our Take: Following in San Francisco's footsteps, Palo Alto bans plastic bags at supermarkets, effective Sep. 18. We like their commitment to reducing consumption, however it's fees - not bans - that are the best way to go. Ireland's PlasTax reduced plastic bag consumption by 90% in its first year alone.
A proposal in Colorado to ban plastic bags at supermarkets and other large stores by 2012 passed its first test at the state Capitol on Wednesday…
The proposed ban is opposed by supermarkets, big box stores and department stores. The bill would not apply to smaller stores and franchise operations.
Our Take: Kudos to Colorado for standing strong amid the plastic bag industry’s significant efforts, which have squashed many other city and state bag initiatives. And while we still believe fees are the best way to change consumption behavior, it’s exciting to see this legislation move through the state Senate.
The Santa Monica City Council was set to adopt an ordinance earlier this month banning single-use plastic bags from all retail establishments in the city, but postponed taking action…
A day before the meeting, the city received a 17-page letter from Stephen Joseph, an attorney representing SaveThePlasticBag.com, which is an association of plastic bag manufacturers and related businesses, stating its intent to file a lawsuit against the city after the ban is passed…
After a marathon meeting, a Toronto city council committee has decided not to ban paper drink cups with plastic lids — for now, but will push ahead with two other controversial recycling moves…
The committee also decided to take the next step in its proposal to ban on the sale of water in plastic bottles at all city-run facilities — that the issue go before council.
Our Take: Part of the “disposables” story we’ve been following, drawing attention to other common forms of wasteful consumption, such as coffee cups and lids. Toronto is sending a clear message that overconsumption must be stopped. Although the ban on cups and other disposables was rejected, perhaps a fee (like France’s ‘picnic tax’) is still viable – and the best solution for changing consumer behavior.
The City Council appears unlikely to tax and ultimately ban plastic shopping bags, despite a recommendation from staffers that Dallas do away with them for environmental reasons...
The plan [Eric Griffin, interim director of the city’s Office of Environmental Quality] suggested involved seeking state authority to levy a fee of 5 cents per bag on consumers in Dallas to initiate a ban in three to five years if the fee did not substantially reduce the number of bags used.
Dallas would have joined the likes of Ireland in passing a bag fee – the most successful government initiative to overconsumption of plastic and paper bags. As in Seattle, industry interests are effectively squashing the issue with misinformation and money, and legislators aren’t fighting back – whether because of a lack of resources or simply feeling overpowered.
They’re missing out: Ireland's PlasTax cut plastic bag consumption by 90% and generated $9.6 million in its first year alone, earmarked to improve the environment. Talk about a win-win (or in this case, a lose-lose).
Wal-Mart Stores Inc will give out fewer plastic shopping bags, and encourage shoppers to reuse and recycle them, as the retailer aims to slash its plastic bag waste by a third worldwide by 2013.
Environmental Leader 10.06.08
IKEA announced that starting this month, the company will no longer be offering plastic or paper bags at any of its U.S. stores. They will only offer reusable bags.
Our Take: Ikea’s plastic bag ban has great sound bite appeal and while we applaud Wal-Mart for doing some of the harder work to reduce consumption, cheap reusable bags aren’t going to solve the problem either. Let’s not forget, part of Wal-Mart’s strategy is to have millions of people carrying around reusable shopping bags with their logo. It’s a crafty form of free advertising for the company that shouts “Wal-Mart’s green!”
We’d love to see both retailers adopt some of the progressive tactics of other retailers – charge for plastic bags and offer a credit for any reusable shopping bag customers bring with them.
The City of Toronto is considering everything from a tax to an outright ban on objects like paper coffee cups, fast-food containers and plastic bags that clog the recycling system.
By 2010, Toronto wants to send only 30 percent of its garbage to landfill sites. But to achieve that goal, the city says, it needs to limit the garbage that takes up a lot of space—and that means reducing Styrofoam cartons, plastic bags and the ubiquitous paper coffee cup.
Our Take: Part of a growing trend of legislation (still outside the U.S. mainly), taking aim at use-and-toss items often perceived as free. We anticipate more cities will continue targeting the wasteful over-consumption of food containers and
The American Chemistry Council has reported spending $180,625 in August to fight a 20-cent fee on paper and plastic bags that was approved by the Seattle City Council in July.
Most of the money was likely used for signature gathering in an effort to put the issue on a future citywide ballot. The Coalition to Stop the Seattle bag Tax has turned in about 22,000 signatures. That averages out to about $8 per signature.
Our Take: $180,000 is just the start – small potatoes
compared to the total amount industry likely will
spend in an attempt to defeat this legislation. If done right, Seattle’s bag fee is poised
to knock down plastic bag production by 90% (see Ireland’s PlasTax), posing a huge threat to industry.
Think about it...for the $8 spent per signature, the ACC could have bought every person who signed the petition a high quality reusable bag (like ours ).
Plastic bags are a small percentage of total litter, so eliminating them won't save taxpayers a penny because other litter will still need to be cleared from the same locations. Plastic bags do indeed fly off trash trucks, but whose fault is that? The Board of Supervisors should address this problem instead of placing the blame for it on law-abiding consumers and the plastic-bag industry…
Savetheplasticbag.com?! At first we thought this was a farce. The site is
designed to mislead people by creating a case that there’s nothing wrong with
plastic bags. Paper vs. plastic is not the issue – drastically reducing
consumption and the adoption of reusable bags is. Sure seems like a plastics
Seattle voters moved a step closer Thursday to getting a chance to repeal the 20-cent bag fee the city wants all grocery, convenience and drugstores to charge for paper and plastic bags. A coalition of plastic and grocery industries submitted 22,252 signatures to the city this week to allow voters to decide whether they favor the fee — 14,374 of them must be verified to put the issue on the ballot. The deadline was Thursday to submit the signatures.
Our Take:As expected, industry interests are fighting tooth and
nail to kill Seattle’s bag fee, modeled after Ireleand’s hugely
successful Plastax. Set to take effect Jan 1, the initiative would have set a sea-change precedent for cities across the nation.
On Monday, the City Council [of Seattle] approved a 20-cent fee, starting in January, for each disposable paper or plastic bag used at grocery, drug and convenience stores. While other U.S. cities have banned plastic bags, Seattle is believed to be the first to discourage use by charging a fee. Although the new fee may force Seattle residents to permanently alter their shopping habits, council members said the environmentally correct behavior will become natural, just like recycling.
The city plans to give at least one free, reusable bag to each household, and the council directed Seattle Public Utilities to come up with a plan by the end of November on how to provide extra bags to low-income residents.
Our Take: This is major news. Seattle is the first U.S. city to follow Ireland's lead in implementing a successful plastic bag fee model. We are confident that Seattle residents will alter their shopping habits quickly - reusable shopping bags will become an integrated part of life in the Emerald City and plastic bag overconsumption will disappear. Seattle City Councilmember, Tim Burgess said it best - "I think that after a few months of legislation, we will wonder what all the fuss is about."
Watch for the plastic bag industry to violently attack this fee based model since it represents the beginning of a paradigm shift.
Support California's landmark legislation to reduce plastic bag consumption—and fight industry's spin to "save the plastic bag"
The American Chemistry Council and plastic bag manufacturers have joined forces to launch a web and radio campaign to stop California’s proposed plastic bag fee, modeled after Ireland’s hugely successful Plastax initiative. Basically, the campaign distorts the facts and scares Californians into thinking the legislation will cost them more money, when the reverse is true.
We just found out about this and here's what we plan to do to support California's policy and help them be a model for cities across the U.S.:
-Post the excellent blog that alerted us to this development in our Newsroom, which gets more than 250,000 unique visitors a month, and add it to our Top Stories Newsletter, which has 8,000 subscribers.
-Inspire people from all states to tell their Senators to address the issue of plastic bag pollution! Use the form letters provided here to contact your state legislators.
The American Chemistry Council is using scare tactics and twisted facts on the issue of plastic bags because they don't have a leg to stand on. They're feigning concern about rapid deforestation, should consumers kick the plastic-bag addiction and replace it with paper bags, totally (and conveniently) ignoring the very viable solution of reusable bags.
YES, WE’LL HAVE TO FIGHT to get the real facts out there: Taxpayers DO shoulder the costs of plastic bags in countless ways. Recycling of plastic bags is a paltry 5%, at best. And paper is no better an alternative. It's time to wake up and focus on long-term solutions, not spin. Click here to learn more about the plastic bag issue.
Late last week, a fantastic slide show making its way around the internet
caught our eye. Using a potent
combination of facts and images, it
tells the story of plastic bag
over-consumption we first laid out at our web
site five years ago. Its short, visual format
provides an incredible tool to educate and
We liked the slide show so much, we hustled to:
Convert and post it as an easy-to-view
video on YouTube, opening it up to millions
Discover who produced it and give them
credit. It turns out to be a fellow
Chicagoan! Vishal Mody - a public school
Share it with you, our 80,000+
newsletter subscribers, and post it in our Newsroom.
Please take just 4 minutes to watch it and help spread the word!
The Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday to ban plastic carryout bags in the city's supermarkets and stores by July 2010 -- but only if the state fails to impose a 25-cent fee on every shopper who requests them.
Council members said they hope an impending ban would spur consumers to begin carrying canvas or other reusable bags, reducing the amount of plastic that washes into the city's storm drains and the ocean.
"This is a major moment for our city, to bite the bullet and go with something that is more ecologically sensitive than what we've ever done before," said Councilman Bill Rosendahl...
Our Take: Bravo, California! Los Angeles joins the ranks of San Francisco in reducing plastic bag consumption. However, the biggest news is not the ban, but that Los Angeles is the first major U.S. city to vote to implement a plastic bag tax, by charging $.25 for “use-and-toss” bags, should the legislature not pass a statewide ban. A similar Plastax in Ireland reduced plastic bag consumption by 90%, and we are really excited to see the first U.S. effort to do the same. Even more importantly, Los Angeles also takes aim at paper bags, sending the message that over consumption of any kind is wasteful.
Los Angeles alone will put a dent in plastic bag consumption by reducing the 2.3 billion plastic bags it uses each year. We hope the city proves to be a model for many more across the nation.
Portlanders drive an average of three fewer miles a day than the average American Joe. We have more certified green buildings per capita than any other U.S. city. Time to kick back with an organic IPA and watch the clouds go by, right? Hardly. Wake up, Portland. We’re slipping. Sometime between Gov. Tom McCall’s speeches and Al Gore’s Nobel Prize, Portland ceded the green crown.
A group of very ill cows was taken to a local veterinary hospital, anaesthetized and surgically examined. It turned out, says Indian journalist Subhash Mishra, that inside their stomachs was an extraordinary number of plastic bags. "More than 50, 60 bags," per cow, he recalls. Listen to story… Link: India cow killer bagged, but deaths continue
CNN, 06.01.08 China recently fulfilled its January pledge to ban free plastic bags. CNN gives us a glimpse into both the new system of charging for disposable plastic bags and the depressing effects of the culprits being free and plentiful for dozens of years.
Our Take: We hope other countries will follow China’s lead. Charging for plastic bags will help to change consumer habits over time – Ireland has the proof after their hugely successful Plastax produced a 90% drop in consumption. What do you think?
Grocery and drug stores in Chicago will soon be required to recycle plastic bags under an ordinance that passed the City Council Wednesday. Shoppers can expect to see plastic bag recycling bins at retailers within the next six to nine months. Stores are responsible for making sure the plastic doesn't end up in landfills. Noncompliance can result in a daily fine of $500.
Mike Nowak of the Chicago Recycling Coalition referred to the latest version as “New York lite” and a “swing and a miss.” He questioned why the Best Buys and Office Depots of the world were exempt. “This is a first step. But let us not forget that the blue bag program was a first step that failed to produce a second step,” Nowak said.
Vail Daily 04.05.08 Will “paper or plastic?” soon follow “smoking or non-smoking?” onto the list of once-ubiquitous, now-obsolete questions? Could be if others follow the lead of Durango Natural Foods, which earlier this month announced that, starting in May, it will phase out plastic bags and charge 20 cents for paper bags. Durango supermarkets trying to get customers to bring their own bags…
Across the globe politicians and corporations are debating the effectiveness of plastic bag bans versus plastic bag taxes. Ireland, Italy and Belgium all tax plastic sacks, while places like San Francisco and China are banning them all together. Other countries and companies are implementing or considering recycling programs. Each attempt to deal with the issue has its pros and cons. According to Vincent Cobb, founder of ReusableBags.com, the movement has gained momentum. “We all have the tendency to buy too much stuff, and I think the symbolic nature is what has made this such a powerful thing.”
Our Take: Our founder was interviewed for this article – here is a quote: “A tax charged at checkout is what we need to change consumer behavior. Plastic bags aren’t inherently bad; it’s the mindlessness and volume of consumption.”
Using Ireland’s successful plastic bag tax as a model, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels is proposing a 20 cent “green fee” on all disposable bags. The proposed fee is the first of its kind in the nation made by a mayor striving for a legacy of environmental stewardship. If the City Council approves, the fee would go into effect January 1. In an effort to ease the transition, the city will mail one reusable shopping bag to each household.
Our Take: Kudos to Mayor Nickels! This is big news – we’ve been laying down the challenge to US politicians for several years to take the bold move and implement a Plastax modeled initiative. (For the record San Francisco did attempt a “loosely” based model in 2005 which failed.) With Ireland’s disposable-bag use down 90 percent, Seattle is on the right track. Plastic industry interests will work hard to derail this since in all likelihood it will start a trend…it will be interesting to see what happens. What do you think?
Prime Minister Gordon
Brown today signalled that he will use the law to stop supermarkets giving away
free plastic bags within the next 12 months. Supermarkets that do not
voluntarily start charging customers for plastic bags are expected to be
compelled to impose a levy of at least 5p a bag. Ministers could impose the new
regime using amendments to the climate change bill, which is currently going
through parliament. Brown made his pledge as the
Guardian revealed that government departments handed out nearly one million
branded plastic bags themselves, mostly in connection with publicity campaigns.
Los Angeles County supervisors backed off a threat Tuesday to ban plastic shopping and grocery bags. Instead, officials chose the weakest of five alternatives recommended by county executives: a volunteer program that leaves it to supermarket and store owners to coax customers into packing their purchases in reusable containers.
The action was a scale-back from a year ago, when supervisors ordered county lawyers to look into drafting a ban on non-recyclable bags altogether, much as San Francisco did. The 90-day study stretched into nine months, as grocers and retailers weighed in - the California Grocers Association, which represents 500 retailers in California and Nevada, had even hired a lobbying firm.
Indeed, with county executives prepared to seek only the voluntary measure, a last-minute amendment was offered and the final product approved by supervisors: A ban would be adopted only if the use of bags in unincorporated Los Angeles County did not decrease at least 30% by July 2010 and at least 65% by July 2013.
New York Times 02.02.08 & International Herald Tribune 01.31.08
In 2002, Ireland passed a tax on plastic bags...Within weeks, plastic bag use dropped 94 percent. Drowning in a sea of plastic bags, countries from China to Australia, cities from San Francisco to New York have in the past year adopted a flurry of laws and regulations to address the problem, so far with mixed success.
After five years of the plastic bag tax, Ireland has changed the image of cloth bags, a feat advocates hope to achieve in the United States. Vincent Cobb, the president of reusablebags.com, who founded the company four years ago to promote the issue, said: “Using cloth bags has been seen as an extreme act of a crazed environmentalist. We want it to be seen as something a smart, progressive person would carry.”
Comment: Ireland has paved the way. What other countries, cities or states will step up, find the political will and follow suit?
In Illinois, members of a recycling task force are brainstorming ways to reduce plastic bag waste but an outright ban on the petroleum-based bags is not likely.
However, the Illinois General Assembly passed the Plastic Bag Recycling Act, calling for a voluntary, two-year pilot program in Lake County to determine the cost to retailers who implement plastic bag recycling programs.
But some, like Vincent Cobb, are inspired by Ireland's "Plastax" example and think it could be implemented in the United States. "Retailers were resisting it initially, but at the end of the day they’re going to save a heck of a lot of money," said Cobb, who founded Chicago-based Reusablebags.com, which sells its own line of reusable shopping bags.
Our Take: Measures like this highlight the 2 extremes - on one side is a complete ban of plastic bags, which puts retailers on the defensive, and on the other is a mandate to recycle bags, which does nothing to curb consumption. We're interested in the middle ground, and advocate reusable bags which both curb consumption and limit the use of plastic bags.
For organic grocery store Whole Foods, the difference between them and the competition is in the bag. The national supermarket chain, including its two Tempe locations, will stop using plastic grocery bags starting Earth Day, April 22.
Plastic bag bans are gaining momentum in New York, China and Australia according to the advocacy site and online store reusablebags.com. Ireland began taxing the bags in 2002, leading to a 90 percent drop in the bags' use.
Plastic shopping bags, your day is done. That's the overwhelming sentiment lately as retail businesses and lawmakers take strides to eliminate the eco-hazardous items from store inventories.
Here's the 411 on why plastic bags harm the environment, according to Reusablebags.com, a Chicago company that sells, well, reusable bags: Plastic bags, which are made from petroleum by-products, aren't biodegradable. They slowly break down into tiny toxic bits, contaminating soil and waterways and eventually find their way into the food chain when animals unknowingly ingest them.