Posts Tagged ‘paper bags’

Ready for the Ban?

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

Great mock ad which made me realize that we only have about 3 weeks left until the Bellingham bag ban goes into effect.  The clip is foreign, so don’t expect any tasteful euphemisms, in fact it is certainly a bit on the dysphemistic side.

I’m not real sure how the whole bag ban thing is going to pan out, but probably not like the advertisement.  Really who is going to actually take their squid home in a cotton mesh bag?

As far as it affecting me?  I’m also not real excited about a bunch of paper bags lying around, so I’ll have to shake out my reusables and throw them in the car.   The Bellingham bag ban is actually fairly selective though,

  • Single-use plastic carry out bags are prohibited.  This includes all plastic bags less than 2.25 mils thick provided at check out or point of sale.
  • Customers must be charged 5 cents per large paper bag. Retailers keep the revenue from the 5-cent charge, which is taxable and must be shown on sales receipts.
  • Large paper bags requiring the 5-cent charge must be a minimum of 40 percent post-consumer recycled fiber and the fiber content must be marked on the outside.
  • Smaller paper bags may be provided with or without charge at the store’s discretion.
  • Thick plastic bags — 2.25 mil or greater — are deemed reusable and may be provided with or without charge at the store’s discretion

…so it wouldn’t surprise me to see stores start offering heavier gauge plastic bags as a backup, rather than going back to paper and dealing with the City imposed nickel fee/tax, as well as the rain soaked paper bags dumping their customer’s purchases halfway to their car.    Other city’s like San Francisco actually amended their bans and tied up this loophole.

WHEREAS, The intention of the Ordinance was to reduce the use of single-use plastic
bags by banning them at supermarkets and drugstores; and,

WHEREAS, The Plastic Bag Reduction Ordinance allows stores to give away reusable
bags, which are defined as including any plastic bag at least 2.5 mil thick; and

WHEREAS, This definition has resulted in the unintended consequence of some stores
distribtlting 2.5 mil thick polyethylene plastic bags,

SF bag ban amendment

Perhaps everyone will go with reusable  perhaps we’ll see a switch back to paper, perhaps we will see all stores go to the heavy gauge “legal” plastic as the norm.   We shall see.  We shall see.  We shall see.

Force and Require

Saturday, July 9th, 2011

I just read in the Herald today that Haggen Food & Pharmacy is supporting a proposed ban on single use plastic bags in Bellingham and I have got to say how disappointed I am in their lack of leadership in this issue.

The ordinance would force retailers to stop offering plastic shopping bags to their customers within city limits, with a few possible exceptions. It also would require retailers to collect a 5-cent fee for every paper bag used by a customer.

I think it is pretty self evident that these single use bags are a nuisance, a blight on the countryside, and in their growing volume are an environmental problem, so the issue here is not the bags, but how we go about ridding or reducing their use.   The worst way I can imagine is to force and require consumers and retailer to follow a complicated, difficult to enforce, ordinance that is riddled with exceptions, yet that is exactly what is being proposed.

The seven-page ordinance proposed for Bellingham contains many wrinkles, among them:

  • a provision exempting low-income people from the nickel paper bag fee;
  • a provision allowing a store to get a temporary exemption from the law that would be granted by the mayor, if that store can demonstrate a special hardship;
  • a provision allowing retailers at the Bellingham Farmers Market to distribute paper bags to their customers without charging the nickel fee;
  • a provision authorizing the city to inspect retail establishments to check for compliance, and to seek court orders against violators;
  • paper bags provided to shoppers must be made from 40 percent recycled materials.

Read more: Bellingham Herald Politics

If this type of plastic bag is so bad that we need to address their use with any type of ban, why not make it a better ban and just ban their use without exception?   That’d be a simple, fair, more limited government solution, without “many wrinkles” that would leave the rest of the decision making in the hands of consumers and retailers.

But what I think is by far the best way to rid of us this type of plastic bag is for large outfits like Haggen Food & Pharmacy, who apparently oppose the use of these bags,  to provide leadership through example.  Haggen could drop these single use bags at anytime without City Ordinance, and probably boost their business in Bellingham.  This could potentially create a peer pressure situation that would have other retailers curtailing or reducing their own use to keep up with the Haggens.   I would certainly support Haggen if they went this route over the route of more government.

We don’t need more ordinances, we need leadership.