By John Lawrence
The San Diego Climate Action Plan calls for an action item to be passed by the City Council in 2014: the plastic bag ban. More than 110 other California Cities and Counties have already passed one.
Los Angeles City and County both have bans on plastic bags. San Francisco became the first city in the nation to adopt a ban on plastic shopping bags in April 2007. In February of 2012, the Board of Supervisors voted to expand the ordinance to more stores. Since San Jose’s ban took effect in 2012, plastic-bag litter in storm drains, which can contribute to flooding, has fallen by 89 percent.
You know the way, San Jose. Since you raised the minimum wage, unemployment has actually diminished. Take that, job creators. In San Diego County Solana Beach is the only city to enact the ban.
“The objective is to wean ourselves from temporary bags,” said San Diego Councilwoman Sherri Lightner, who shepherded the plastic bag ban ordinance through the Rules and Economic Development Committee, which approved the draft rule last October, eight long months ago. The ban could eliminate 348 million single-use plastic bags from San Diego each year, the Equinox Center estimated in a report that coincided with the committee vote. It could save the city $160,000 per year in bag cleanup costs, preserve precious space at Miramar Landfill and keep plastics out of the ocean, the report concluded.
This is from lacounty.gov:
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has adopted an ordinance banning single use plastic carryout bags at stores in the County unincorporated areas, while requiring they charge 10¢ for each paper carryout bag sold to a customer. The 10-cent charge on paper bags is not subject to State sales tax and will be retained by stores for use in complying with the ordinance.
The intent of the ordinance is to promote the use of reusable bags over single use plastic and paper carryout bags in order to reduce the negative economic and environmental impacts associated with single use bags. This is one of over 70 [Ed. note: now 110] single use plastic carryout bag bans adopted in California alone. And approximately 50 jurisdictions around the country have also adopted carryout bag restrictions. Within Los Angeles County alone, there have been 11 incorporated cities who adopted bag ordinances: Beverly Hills, Calabasas, Culver City, Glendale, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Malibu, Manhattan Beach, Pasadena, Santa Monica, and West Hollywood.
But as with anything else having to do with the City Council, they are experts in diluting, watering down and delaying stuff that the majority of their constituents think it makes sense to do. Look at their equivocating with regard to raising the minmum wage for example. Their first tactic is to water down the amounts. Their second tactic is to delay the implementation. Their third is to phase it in over a number of years. The fourth is to restrict the range of businesses that it applies to.
The same forces are at work with regard to the plastic bag ban. Instead of just saying, Hey the plastic bag ban starts tomorrow – deal with it – they will probably “phase it in” over a number of months, years, decades, because we don’t want to inconvenience the job creators who might lay people off if they can’t use their beloved plastic, freakin’ bags. Then the next thing is that those businesses which have lobbied them to death will be exempted from the plastic bag ban like, for instance, Home Depot. Then it will only apply to grocery stores and supermarkets having a certain amount of revenues. By the time they slice it and dice it, they will have eliminated a few plastic bags without offending the business community which will lobby hard for plastic bag “freedom” – the freedom to use any type of bag they damn well please.
Former Mayor Jerry Sanders will appear on our TV screens representing the San Diego Chamber of Commerce to tell us of the dire, horrorific events that will certainly transpire if we so much as ban one plastic bag. Consumers will go all the way to Poway or Escondido, mind you, because they have not and will not consider a plastic bag ban there. Consumers will go out of their way to get their plastic bag fix. They will not tolerate a paper or reusable bag for their groceries and especially if they have to pay 10 cents for one. Why of all the outrage! First gub’mint is meddling with our freedom to use whatever bag we please, and then they have the audacity, the unmitigated gall, to charge us for it!
And then there are the germophobes who wouldn’t consider using a bag more than once for fear that that would be tantamount to contracting some uncurable tropical disease, some disease that antibiotics have lost their power to mitigate. What if their e coli infused chicken dripped or leaked into the canvas? They want their meat wrapped in plastic. Will that be a thing of the past once the plastic bag banners get their way?
They could care less that whales and large birds often swallow plastic carryout bags inadvertently during feeding, which become permanently lodged in their stomachs. So what! There are too many whales and large birds around anyway. Turtles swallow plastic carryout bags since they resemble their main food source, jellyfish. If I want to see a turtle I’ll go to the zoo. Don’t tell me that we humans have to take a back seat to turtles. Right, Jerry?
And then there’s the “gyre”, that large patch of pollution in the Pacific Ocean 1000 miles off San Diego’s coast that’s a virtual garbage dump of plastic where all our plastic bags, bottles and other crap go not to die but to live on in perpetuity. The Chamber of Commerce position would probably be to just tell sailors to avoid that stretch of ocean. Out of sight; out of mind! Work your way around it, guys. Nobody lives there anyway except a bunch of fish. And they’re a dime a dozen – before they’re caught and processed anyway.
Lawmakers in Sacramento are trying to make California the first state to approve a blanket ban on this most ubiquitous of consumer products – the plastic bag. But their efforts have so far failed twice due to astute lobbying by Hilex Poly, one of the nation’s largest manufacturers of plastic bags. They single-handedly spent more than $1 million lobbying against the bill to ban plastic in California in 2010. That bill failed, as did another attempt in 2013. Hilex Poly, based in Hartsville, S.C., has made political donations to every Democrat in the California Senate who joined Republicans in voting against last year’s bill.
So there you have it. They don’t even need to bribe Republicans who are against banning plastic bags just on the face of it. They only need to grease the palms of Democrats who need a little … persuasion. Give the Democrats some sugar and they will vote your way. Remember, a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.
Mark Daniels, vice president at Hilex Poly, said a ban would cost the state up to 2,000 jobs. Oh those job creators again. We have to cater to them even at the expense of the poor whales and turtles. “This is going to cost Californians millions and millions of dollars,” Mr. Daniels said of the bag banning legislation. “They’re going to have to purchase millions of supposedly reusable bags from China.” Supposedly reusable? Mr. Daniels has a point. How do we really know that a bag made in China is really reusable? It will probably collapse after only a few outings.
California taxpayers on the hook again – this time for millions of dollars worth of reusable plastic bags made in China! What’s the matter with the good ole USA for making reusable bags? Consider our balance of payments. A plastic bag ban will ultimately mean that China will take over reusable bag production. We’ll lose our sovereignty to a communist – make that state capitalist – nation.
But state Senator Alex Padilla is not giving up.
“It has become increasingly clear to the public the environmental damage that single-use plastic bags have reaped,” said Alex Padilla who is sponsoring yet another round of legislation for a statewide ban. “This is the beginning of the phaseout of single-use plastic bags — period,” he said.
Mr. Padilla’s measure would ban the bags at supermarkets, liquor stores and other locations where they have long existed. Paper bags and more robust, reusable plastic bags will be available for 10 cents, with the goal of forcing shoppers to remember their canvas bags. But after you’re liquored up, who can remember to bring that reusable canvas bag? Who cares anyway? C’est la vie!
But in the heartland of the US, controlled by Republicans, the plastic bag aficionados are not giving up. Florida has issued a ban against local municipalities passing bans on plastic bags. Take that California, you liberal oasis. We’ll ban your bans.
There has never been a simpler, more easily understood ordinance. It’s not rocket science.
Don’t prevaricate. Don’t equivocate. Don’t tergiversate. City Council, quit dragging your feet, get your haunches in gear, join 110 other California Cities and Counties and pass the plastic bag ban NOW.
Brian Brady says
I live in Solana Beach and I’m amazed that people walk around town using plastic bags (they are illegal here). Should the police shoot them on sight?
Not illegal to HAVE — or re-use — plastic bags. Prob’ly brought them in from (dare I say it) Encinitas. The horror!
bob dorn says
Don’t Tread on My Plastic Bag. Try and Take It. When Plastic Bags are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Plastic Bags.
I never understand what it is that awakens this passion for plastic amongst some segment of the public. Plastic bags, and guns. And climate. Are each of these segments separate, or do they overlap, or are they all in for one another? When plastic bags are threatened do the Gunheads and Climaticals run to the rescue of the Plasticians? And so on, one to another to the other?
I’m gonna cut eyeholes and mouth holes in a plastic bag from Sprouts, put it over my head and see who yells “woo-hoo” at me, and pats me on the fake AK-.22 sympathetic gunsling slung over my back while denying climate change.
John Lawrence says
Bob, I like that slogan: “When plastic bags are outlawed, only outlaws will have plastic bags.” Couldn’t have said it better myself. Obviously, saving the oceans by getting rid of plastic bags and saving the climate by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide we put in it are two separate (but related) issues. If the climate warms uncontrollably or if the oceans die, we are dead either way. So they are related in that sense and both come under the heading of keeping the planet habitable for humans and other animals.
Bernard King says
What does a plastic bag ban have to do with global warming?
If anything, it would stimulate the consumption of paper bags which means more trees would need to cut down to satisfy the demand. Less trees mean less carbon dioxide is being removed from the atmosphere which therefore means that a plastic bag ban will contribute to the buildup of atmospheric CO2, thus making the consequences of global climate change even worse.
Is contributing to global warming what we really want to accomplish?
Annie Lane says
I think the goal here is to increase the use of the reusable bag. That’s why many cities with a plastic bag ban impose a small charge for paper bags as a deterrent because, like you say, they have their own environmental setback.
Brian Brady says
The more the plans fail, the more the failures plan
bob dorn says
Disembodied, those failures that can plan. Just like corporations that are people and money that is speech.
what does that even mean?
obviously the purpose is to promote increased use of permanent bags.
btw, i’ve been using them for years. some stores (sprout’s, for example) pay a nickel for each cloth bag each time.
Brian Brady says
Sprout’s sounds like a store which should be supported by people who choose to use cloth bags, especially since they reward you to do so. Command and control however doesn’t work; cooperation does
HA! Tell that to everyone who IS using their seatbelt.
Come on Mr. Brady, ALL laws are based on forced compliance. Or are you advocating general law defiance?
Brian Brady says
“ALL laws are based on forced compliance.”
…which is why we should be VERY careful about passing laws. Ultimately, all of them are enforced at the tip of the gun. There are much less violent ways to influence people.
I have lots of ideas about how to improve society but I don’t resort to implied violence to get compliance
Point is, cooperation only works when folks are cooperative. That leaves out all republican climate-change deniers for a start. And folks who voted no on Props B&C.
Nope, this must be legislated to have any traction.
bob dorn says
Brady, you ought to look at the political movements that use guns to force, not laws, but their movements’ views on people. To name a few we can consider Cliven Bundy up in Nevada, who stands squarely with you on (his perceived) rights to federal lands and collected gunslingers to defend them, and, to the open carry movement, which in states like Florida and OklaTuckey can now show up to harass women with guns outside the clinics. I’ll take my chance with the cops because our laws make more sense than your fevered gun fantasists who think the guvmint is the problem, much as you do.
You believe in the power of the gun when you say about laws, “Ultimately, all of them are enforced at the tip of the gun.”
So far, our laws have withstood this confusion of coercion and control with the all-righteous mighty exercise of individual power. Ultimately, the gun will be used by your fantasy superman.
John Lawrence says
Sprouts also sells reusable plastic bags. Just heavier duty plastic that will last a long time.
Frank Gormlie says
The Sprouts I go to many times don’t have paper bags to give out. The clerks’ official line is that “we just ran out,” but privately they say management just doesn’t want to buy paper bags – they’re too expensive.
Best is to get cloth bags from whatever sources you can. More and more companies are using them as advertising premiums.
Jamie Edmonds says
. . . or you could plant acres of hemp and make your bags out of that. It’s sequestering carbon while it’s growing and lasts for a long time as a fiber, and in the end can be recycled/composted cleanly. There are many ways to use these big brains of ours to solve our common technological problems/challenges if we just embrace the scientific method and give up our attachments to outdated, unquestioned, and often ineffective (or at least not ideal) solutions we inherited from our ancestors. We will either adapt and get used to it or eventually die bitter and angry . . . and either way, the younger generation will accept it as a given and improve upon it going forward until they also get too old and stuck in their ways to embrace the world of constant change that we live in. You don’t miss leaded gas, do you? ;-)
Ocean contaminated not only by plastic bags. The oil spills have ruined for years, as does nuclear waste, many oceans. Not to mention natural beach fronts, coastlines, birds. fish, turtles, other sea life. Taking away many jobs. And what about the yachts and cruise ships trash?