California set to ban those crappy plastic bags

Shoppers who don’t bring their own totes to a store would have to purchase paper bags made of at least 40 percent recycled material for a minimum of 5 cents or buy reusable bags under the proposal, which would take effect Jan. 1, 2012. A spokesman for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he supports the bill, which will be voted on in the Assembly this week and could go to a Senate vote this year.

The measure would go further than plastic bag bans in at least five California cities, including San Francisco.

San Francisco’s ordinance applies only to chain supermarkets and pharmacies, but the state measure would bar the items from all food and convenience stores, and it would also restrict retailers from handing out free paper bags.

Okay. So…what is this trying to accomplish, precisely?

I’m gonna venture a guess and say it’s to cut down on waste.

Less use of disposable plastic bags seems to be the obvious conclusion.

I’m generally not a fan of nanny-state kind of stuff, but this is something I feel like I can actually get behind. Those goddam plastic bags just tear too easily.

Cutting down on waste isn’t a goal in itself - it’s only a goal in service to another goal. What’s the eventual hope here? Because my basic reaction is a deep desire to punch the Terminator squarely in the face and explain to him that there’s no landfill crisis, but I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt for the moment and assuming there’s just something I’m missing.

The article stated the state spends $25 million collecting and disposing of plastic shopping bags.

It’s also a good thing to do for the environment, but no one really gives a shit about that. It’s the money.

Okay, see, now that’s something, though I’m not entirely sure I’d be comfortable offsetting what’s basically a littering problem with a gigantic, monolithic service restriction. I have, however, seen the highways in California on a couple of occasions (you guys could take a lesson from Texas on that one - think about that), and anything that cuts down on superfluous crap could present some benefit.

I question how good of a thing it would be to do for the environment (unlike other petroleum products, plastic bags are at least, well, solid and not inhaled, and if you’re talking about putting them in a landfill it’s about as close as you can get to sequestering petroleum at this point as anything). What I know of petroleum science tells me that there are other, much better, much less inconvenient ways to cut down pollution than by taking away poly-film bags. I actually quite like them. They fit in my small trash cans and they’re easier to carry than paper. However, I’m a responsible sort of fellow who disposes of his waste in properly labeled waste receptacles, which, judging by the number of assholes I see tossing mother fucking cigarette butts out of their car windows on the freeway every day (a peeve of mine) puts me in the minority.

This already happens in Ireland. There’s a government mandated 5 cent charge on plastic bags. Retailers are not allowed to cover this charge themselves and must pass it on to the customer at the till. In my anecdotal experience it does encourage re-use of bags.

They can take my plastic bags away from me when they peel them off my cold dead face.

Note that this applies to both paper and plastic bags. The stores around here that I frequent stopped using plastic years ago anyway. The extra nickel isn’t going to prod people into using their own totes at the grocery store, so the whole thing seems pointless from that angle. I guess it may cut back on trash resulting from low cost purchases from convenience stores?

Same down in South Africa. Plastic bags are cheekily referred to as the “national flower” because they’re all over everywhere, stuck in trees, fences, where ever the wind blows them.

Actually, the experience around here (Greater Toronto Area) is that it does prod people into using their own totes. But there needs to be a push behind it, as well as the social stigma of being a wasteful. So perhaps the 5 cent fee is mostly symbolic. But it does put the thought into people’s mind to reduce waste.

If you…read the article it lists a variety of them.

So I’m gonna have to start buying my own trash can liner bags now?

Ha, that was my first reaction too.

I have always preferred reusable totes anyway, but I am carrying my groceries home from the store. Having a plastic OR paper bag rip on you while your still 4 blocks from home is just a huge PITA.

Yeah, some of us have indoor cats.

Yep, for some reason that 5 cents per plastic bag here in Ontario really pushes me into bringing my own bags. It’s not like it’s a huge sum of money, and I’ve certainly wasted more money at a store. Maybe it’s a bad experience I had at a No Frills, where I was waiting after paying for my food and asked for a bag and the cashier snapped at me “That’s extra!”

Anyway, I use a couple of the totes that Zehrs sells, and they’re a huge improvement over the plastic bags. They hold twice as much stuff, I don’t have to worry about them ripping, and I can carry all my stuff home without the handles cutting through my fingers. All in all a positive change. The only pain is remembering to bring them to the store in the first place.

Heh, bans on plastic grocery bags :p

How about the plastic bags folks put their fresh organic produce in, then put them in their safe reusable bags.

Or the cellophane and plastic bags that stuff is sealed in?

Oh there’s the bottles too. Water, juice, special water and so on. Some folks recycle but most just toss the stuff. But having the reusable bags makes them feel good that they are saving the world from evil plastic.