Nanny State Shenanigans, Not Logic, Dominate Reusable Bags Debate

David Williams
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Posted: May 24, 2014 12:01 AM
Nanny State Shenanigans, Not Logic, Dominate Reusable Bags Debate

Many people question whether or not bureaucrats care about or have common sense. The best example of this is the unending debate on reusable bags and plastic bag bans. Time after time, we’ve seen the truth that bag bans and mandated usage of reusable bags does next to nothing to boost the environment. No, they kill jobs and raise costs for no good reason.

Most recently, an Edelman Berland study sought to examine how frequently so-called reusable bags were actually used. According to the study, some 61 percent of respondents stated that though they preferred the reusable option, they still used plastic bags during their most recent grocery store trip. Another 48 percent said they used plastic bags despite being well-aware of bag legislation being in place and approximately 16.4 million consumers hit grocery stores every week with “reusable” bags that haven’t been cleaned even once.

"The actual reuse rate of 'reusable' grocery bags is only around 15 times, but there is an assumption that people are reusing them at a much higher rate,” stated Jason McGrath, who headed up the research. In other words – reusable bags seldom find themselves reused, instead bought again and again, and we’re footing the bill across the board for the cycle.

It’s becoming apparent that these regulations are pointlessly wiping out jobs for minimal benefit. More than 30,000 Americans are employed in plastic bag manufacturing and recycling. Bag bans endangers those jobs at a time when workforce participation is at its lowest level since the Carter administration. That alone should be enough to merit reconsideration.

It doesn’t stop there. Studies on the impact of bag bans in cities have shown that some grocery stores have reduced their workforce by 10 percent. By contrast, stores outside the regulation’s radius upped their employment by roughly 2 percent. That looks like more than just a coincidence.

Such regulations are yielding negative economic impacts and are making no difference whatsoever. More outrageous still is the fact that these reusable bags take 70 percent more energy to produce than the plastic bags so often demonized by environmental radicals. And bag bans make up less than 1 percent of our solid waste stream.

There appears to be no benefit. On the economic front, it’s a job-killer and economic drain. Environmentally speaking plastic bags take considerably less energy to produce and the reusable bags are going unused. The bureaucrats are pushing bag bans nationwide for no obvious reason, save pacifying one radical sect and upping their own oversight.

Yet none of this is stopping California state Senator Alex Padilla. He’s on a quest to take the bag ban statewide, and it’s clear it’s only being done for the sake of rewarding those who’ve ponied up for this and other nanny state causes. Onlookers have repeatedly shown that his proposal would line the pockets of contributors to his campaigns and causes. And, he is also running for secretary of state this year.

The bill, which would be the first statewide ban in the nation, advanced out of the Natural Resources Committee days ago, meaning time is running short to stop this madness.

We can do better than this kind of excessive government that benefits no one than the regulators run amok with power. It’s past time to rein in that kind of nonsense and start respecting the taxpayers.

At the end of the day, plastic bag bans are an utterly nonsensical waste of resources and time. They must be abandoned at once, lest an entire industry continue to be put on the line for an utterly useless reason.