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Old 05-20-2019, 02:07 PM
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Hermitian is offline
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 2,642

Why plastic bag bans aren't as great as everyone thinks

Just heard an interesting interview on NPR. Their conclusion was that plastic bag bans were not great for the environment. Reasons:

1. When they were banned, sales of plastic bags went up. Small ones by 120%. Medium bags by 60%. And the bags that were sold were made of thicker plastic. In other words, people use the plastic bags for other things.
2. In terms of carbon footprint, paper bags are four times worse than a single plastic bag.
3. A person would have to reuse a cotton tote bag 7,100 times more than a plastic grocery bag to make it better for the overall environment. And organic tote bags are even worse.

So what would be better? From the interview:

"The main thing I took away from this research is that the most environmentally friendly thing you can do - and everybody agrees here - you should reuse the same bag over and over again. Now, that bag should probably not be organic cotton. Use one that's, like, polyester or a somewhat durable plastic. So that's kind of what you can do in your personal life.

But then there's kind of the broader policy question. Taylor thinks a fee is smarter than a ban. That's because they're both equally effective when it comes to the goal of encouraging reuse."