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.
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.
Ten months after it was imposed, the fee on disposable bags in Washington, DC still makes sense, although it's not bringing quite the revenue boost that the district was hoping for.
Before the tax went into effect, the district's Chief Financial Officer was projecting income of $3.6 million dollars. But so far income has only amounted to $1.3 million.
This is reason to celebrate; it means the fee works. Because people are required to pay for bags upfront, people are using half as many plastic bags as before.
Under the tax, district residents are charged 5 cents for each disposable bag they got at the store. One penny goes to the shop while the other four cents go to the city. The four cents going to the city go toward cleaning up polluted rivers. Those in charge of cleaning up those rivers claim that they have already noticed a reduction in bag pollution.
"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.
On August 18, Seattle voters rejected a 20-cent fee on
use-and-toss bags. With about half the votes counted, the bag fee was falling behind 58 percent to 42 percent in the primary. The city had originally passed an ordinance to implement the
fee, which would have started in January. However, the plastic industry incited
a referendum that brought the issue to voters in an election this August. Groups
against the fee outspent opponents by about $15-to-1.
Our Take: Having backed the fee from the start, we are disappointed it didn’t
pass. However, more than 46 percent of people voted for the fee, which is
pretty huge and shows that bag fees represent a smart, market-based solution to the problem.
“Four weeks after introducing a $0.05 charge for single-use grocery
bags, Metro grocery stores across Quebec and Ontario (Metro, Metro Plus, Super
C and Marche Richelieu) are reporting that 70 percent fewer bags have been distributed
in store, when compared to the monthly average.
Demand for reusable bags has increased by five times since June 1,
when the fee was implemented. Such positive results will help Metro reach its
goal of reducing the distribution of single-use grocery bags by 50 per cent by
the end of 2010...”
Our Take: We’ve long been in favor of bag fees as way to influence
change in consumption habits. Usually, it takes government action (like the
PlastTax or Seattle’s proposed bag fee) to establish a fee, but this is a
great example of a retailer taking the matter into their own hands – and
succeeding!A 5-cent fee is generally
thought to be too small to really change consumer behavior, but this example
shows that every bit counts!
"Shopping Bag Referendum Divides Seattle Voters: Half
of Seattle likely voters today say they are certain to vote yes on a
ballot referendum that would require a 20 cent fee on disposable
shopping bags; half say they are certain to vote no...Ballot measures in general are more volatile than candidate elections.
Future poll results may show a shift in opinion as voters focus more on the issue." -Survey USA
According to a new poll commissioned by Seattle news station
KING 5, support for Seattle’s landmark bag fee is gaining ground - with 47
percent of respondents saying they’d vote in favor of the fee and 46 percent saying
they’d vote against it.
Our Take: It’s such a
close race, and the Aug. 18 vote is coming quickly. With many voters still undecided, the Green Bag Campaign needs your help now more than ever - learn
more about this important legislation and the simple ways you can help!Modeled after Ireland's successful PlasTax, if Seattle's bag fee
passes, it's the perfect opportunity for this model to take hold in the
"The July 8 public hearing on Seattle's proposed 20-cent tax on disposable grocery bags and a ban on polystyrene foam food containers felt like the Fremont Street Fair. People celebrated. There were speeches on the evils of plastic, singing grannies waving reusable bags and evil monsters parading about the hearing room. In such an atmosphere, it was difficult for the council and mayor to do anything other than say yes to the proposals. But there were good reasons to say no...." Read the full article here.
Our Take: The bag fee is a proven, market-based solution to excessive plastic bag consumption. Here's our take on some of author Peter Nickerson’s misguided (but unfortunately not uncommon) arguments:
“We don’t have a litter problem” - To begin, a 5-mile walk is hardly a scientific study of a major metropolitan area, and statistics on plastic bag litter suggest otherwise. It takes a single plastic bag more than 1,000 years to degrade, so even if you currently don’t see a litter problem, it doesn’t mean you don’t have one – or won’t in the future.
“these currently free bags…” - As an economics teacher, surely Mr. Nickerson has taught “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” There’s no such thing as a “free plastic bag” either. The annual cost to U.S. retailers alone is $4 billion, passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices. And production of bags requires use of valuable natural resources we’re accustomed to paying a premium for.
“…we will buy reusable bags, probably by the millions.” – Cheap reusables do create a new version of the same old problem – an issue that’s blown out of control since flimsy polypropylene bags flooded the market. However, there are other plenty of other win-win options out there, like high-quality reusables made from durable, washable materials.
“…consumption of plastic bag liners doubled as a result of the tax” - There are definitely some uses for plastic bags, but whether you pay for them at the register or by the box, you’ll only buy as many as you need and not much more. “Doubled” sounds huge, but with free-of-charge plastic bags being handed out profusely, the original number of liners purchased was probably negligible. It’s a bad idea to try to eliminate a necessity (a solid argument against plastic bag bans), but it’s sensible to charge for the consumption of a resource that’s not free to produce.
“We should strongly consider what NYC did this spring: promote recycling” - Recycling is definitely a good practice, but (at the high end) only about 3 percent of plastic bags are recycled – which pales in comparison to the >90% reduction in consumption spurred by Ireland’s PlasTax. Plus, the prohibitive cost of processing and recycling plastic bags leads to all sorts unintended, negative consequences.
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.
Seattleites will get to decide whether they're willing to pay a 20-cent-per-plastic bag "green" fee to help the environment.
The City Council on Monday moved to put the question before voters on the Aug. 18 ballot.
Our Take: After a lot of feet-dragging, Seattle residents will finally vote on the bag fee, originally set to take effect Jan 1 of this year. The plastics industry was successful in stalling it, but we hope they won't ultimately derail it. At 20-cents, this bag fee targeting both paper and plastic is a model for cities everywhere to reduce consumption.
ELEVEN OF the 13 members of the D.C. Council are endorsing legislation that would place the District in the forefront of national efforts to reduce local pollution…
In truth, there really is no such thing as a free bag. The cost of bags is built into the prices consumers pay for food. And they pay again -- to the tune of $50 million a year in the District -- to pick up litter and trash, including a lot of plastic bags.
Our Take: As this editorial says, there is no such thing as a “free bag.” Bag fees reveal the invisible cost of paper and plastic bags, normally built into products in the form of higher prices, and give us all the choice to just say ‘no.’ Unfortunately, the 5-cent fee is way too low to change consumption behavior.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg proposed a 5-cent fee on new plastic bags at the store register last week… The projected revenue for this “user fee” was $84 million — a sharp increase from the last figure floated, just $16 million.
That breaks down to one bag for every man, woman and child in New York City every single day of the year. The site Reusablebags.com estimates that 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed annually around the globe.
Our Take: We’re glad to hear the NYC bag fee has been expanded beyond grocery stores to include restaurants and other retailers – but we still think 5-cents just isn’t enough to change behavior. While the city may be looking forward to its potential millions in revenue, changing consumption habits is the true goal of a bag fee. Ireland’s heftier PlasTax cut plastic bag use by 90% in the first year alone!
Ontario shoppers carried home 269 million fewer shopping bags in 2007 than they did in 2006.
On the other hand, they still carted off a little more than 4 billion single-use bags over the course of the year. That's 316 bags per year for every man, woman and child in the province. And fewer than one in 12 of those bags found its way into a recycling program.
After two days of debate and as many as 25 proposed amendments, Toronto council last night voted by a margin of three-to-one for a groundbreaking series of packaging-reduction bylaws.
Our Take: Huge news! While Chicago implemented a bottled water tax in 2008, this is the first bottled water ban we’re aware of – congratulations, Toronto. Banning the sale of plastic water bottles at all city-run facilities is sure to put a dent in consumption. Unfortunately, the 5-cent bag fee voted through just isn’t enough to change consumer behavior.
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.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg
has called for charging shoppers 6 cents for every plastic bag
needed at the register.
the proposal passes, New York City would follow the lead of many European
countries and become one of the first places in the United States to assess a
so-called plastic bag tax.
Our Take: While we applaud a
consumption-based fee of any kind, 6 cents
just isn't enough to change behavior. The
main objective of Ireland's hugely
successful PlasTax was to cut consumption. This seems designed
to create an ongoing revenue
stream for a struggling municipality, while
reducing consumption a little.
We doubt anything less than 25 cents will work.
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).
To general incredulity, the French environment minister, Jean-Louis Borloo, confirmed the so-called "taxe pique-nique" on Monday. "We're doing it," he declared...
The tax will affect plastic goblets, knives and forks, and non-biodegradable paper plates and napkins.
Our Take: France takes a big step -- another example (like plastic
bag fees) of government applying pressure and targeting use-and-toss
items in order to change consumption habits. Whether the initiative
succeeds or fails, it raises awareness about the hidden costs of
disposable items and their massive over-consumption.
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.
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?