David Williams

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.


David Williams

David Williams is the President of the Taxpayer Protection Alliance (TPA).