Revisiting Plastic Bag Charges

March 27th, 2014 by Cathy Rust Leave a reply »

In May, 2010 I wrote a post about the then spate of waste management efforts that had been implemented by the City of Toronto. One of those programs was a 5¢ charge for single use plastic bags by retail organizations in the city. Anyone who has the unfortunate circumstance to live in Toronto under the current mayor, Rob Ford, will know that that city by-law was repealed by that forward thinking leader. In 2010 I had wondered if the ban on plastic bags was working, and after doing some research, contacting the city, reading grocery chains’ annual reports I discovered that indeed, a simple 5¢ charge had effectively reduced single plastic bag use by a whopping 70%. I would say that that is an effective policy! I guess Mayor Ford didn’t agree.

In another forward thinking move, the car dealers of New York state are trying to put pressure on the state government to revoke Tesla Motors’ sales license. Tesla sells direct to consumers and avoids a 6-9% mark-up fee included in car dealers’ prices. While it doesn’t make the cars affordable for most of us (in Ontario they start at $68,000), it does put them in the same league as other luxury cars. North Carolina, Texas and New Jersey are just three states who’ve succumbed to car dealer pressure and forbidden Tesla from selling direct to consumer. I don’t really know how forbidding the sale of  a clean running electric car protects consumers’ rights, but I’m sure someone can explain it to me.

The city of New York is now contemplating charging 10¢ for any single use bag, paper or plastic. In another giant step backwards for the environment, the American Progressive Bag Alliance has issued the following statement regarding this proposed by-law:

Denying that this legislation is a tax is disingenuous to the hardworking residents of New York City. This proposed ordinance will drive up the cost of already expensive groceries for New Yorkers while failing to achieve any environmental goals.

Given that there is evidence to the contrary (see aforementioned research done on Toronto’s past efforts), they may want to revisit that statement. They also might want to take a look at the website plasticoceans.net where they’ve estimated that over one million single plastic use bags are used every minute. Now that’s a good use of resources! (not.)

The single use plastic bag industry is one that should happily die a quick death, and it is only through policies such as charging for plastic bags that will help change our consumer habits. They are easy policies to implement while promoting a cleaner environment for future generations.

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