retail news in context, analysis with attitude

On the discussion of plastic bag bans, fees and other proposed regulatory fixes, one MNB user wrote:

KC, you are seriously inconsistent... it has been touted for some time now, that the San Francisco ban on plastic bags did not get them the litter reduction they were looking for and that the ban did not work. Just like the ban in Ireland does not work because there was and is a significant increase in plastic bag sales in the form of garbage bags which also end up in landfills and are not reusable in homes. Plastic Grocery sacks take the hit but for all the wrong reasons. The lies and myths promoted by the so-called Green Community continue and I am sorry to say, you seem to be a member. Ban on plastic anything does not accomplish anything green. It has been proven time and time again. This is a political football, used by the politicians in San Francisco, Ireland, and any other places where bans are enforced. The numbers are always fudged to get the information needed. But when checked independently, the truth comes out. In today’s world we are quick to judge and react without really looking at facts. Look at the successful recycling programs like in Austin TX. They paint a much better story.

Recycling is the solution; Walmart proves that everyday especially when they recycle enough pounds to pay for their program along with funding money back to the stores as an incentive to do well. There is an ever growing post consumer market for this product which in itself creates jobs and opportunity like no other being developed today….including the so-called jobs market as the result of TARP money being promoted by the current administration. All the reports by the EPA, and other organization are out-dated and years old. But again, no one takes the time to drive an independent study to get to the truth.

Plastic bags or bottles or any other packaging material made from plastic, are not clogging up our landfills. That is simply not true. The facts are that paper is our number one product clogging up landfills (which should not be banned either). The beaches are not covered in plastic; fish are not dying by the millions….chewing gum wrappers, and cigarette butts, are the top litter producers on our beaches.

Reusable bags that you like so much are mostly made off-shore (85%) and are not recyclable, plus a study done in Canada points out there may be sanitation issues if they are not washed periodically, which again defeats the purpose of being “green”. You cannot take them to your nearest supermarket and drop them in the recycling bin. Studies show that 90% of plastic grocery bags are being reused throughout the household for a variety of applications…trash can liners, school lunches, dirty diapers, picking up after the animals, etc…and with today’s flu issues, one time use sterile bags are a good thing.

Reduce, reuse, recycle, regenerate is the solution to our plastic issues. It will create new products that are sustainable, markets for new jobs and new opportunities. I am willing to bet, an article will be written years from now, stating either, we made a mistake about plastic bags, or applauding everyone for the results of a national recycling program that generated jobs and markets. I hope it’s the latter.

Bottom line is the plastic industries are primary to the United States, employing thousands of Americans in all parts of the country from coast to coast. Hurting this industry hurts jobs and for no good reasons other than politics. This product is 100% recyclable and sustainable. It can be made into other products over and over again. This industry should be supported not condemned. Let’s get the facts right rather than react on emotional opinions. Taking plastic away does not help anything.

You are certainly entitled to your opinion. And I suppose that if we lived in a world where plastic bags were guaranteed to be reused - as opposed to becoming litter - then regulation would not be proposed.

It is an interesting question. People say that plastic bags should not be banned because they are simply replaced by garbage bags that must be bought and that end up in landfills. But I would guess that very few of those garbage bags end up as litter - they serve their designated use. That’s certainly not the case with plastic shopping bags. laud Walmart’s recycling efforts, but Walmart also is planning to test a program where it stops giving away free plastic bags. You talk about Ireland, but my recollection is that Feargal Quinn has said that while he opposed bag legislation, he is convinced now that it was a good idea. So maybe not everybody agrees with you.

Another MNMB user wrote:

Many of us have quite a few reusable bags, all from different stores, some of them competitors.  Can these retailers look beyond the logos on your bags or will they refuse to bag your groceries if they do not come from their stores? (As was the case in a Weis Markets just recently).

I hope that was an anomaly. Any retailer that does not bag groceries in a reusable bag from a competitor is a fool.

And Janice Parker Theiss, of PCC Natural Markets (a new favorite retailer of mine) writes:

As of August 2009, nearly 65% of PCC’s customers are bringing in their bags, up from 25% in August 2007 just before we eliminated plastic bags in our stores.

So apparently it can work. And does.
KC's View: