May 23, 2012

This Calls for a Pointless Gesture!

Great Reason piece today on the City of Angels:

There's a crisis in Los Angeles. Is it the city's projected $250 million budget deficit? The city's $10 billion shortfall in pension obligations? Its crumbling infrastructure? A public school dropout rate approaching 50 percent? No, the City of Angels is facing catastrophe in the form of grocery bags.

So great is the menace that the City Council is poised to impose on the good people of Los Angeles the country's strictest grocery bag ban, prohibiting the distribution of both plastic and paper bags.

Author Jay Beeber compends a great list of the stupidity of this: disease, environmental costs of reusable bags, economic costs of nannyism, &c. But one of the interesting factors was what a small part of the waste stream grocery bags are. For all the talk of the scourge, it remains a miniscule portion of waste.
California's Statewide Waste Characterization Study shows that "Plastic Grocery and Other Merchandise Bags" consistently make up just 0.3 percent of the waste stream in the state. That's three-tenths of 1 percent. In comparison, organic waste such as food and yard clippings makes up 32 percent while construction debris comprises about 30 percent. The effect of eliminating free grocery bags on the amount of waste generated in the city would be insignificant.

Can't believe they beat Boulder to this.

Environment Posted by John Kranz at May 23, 2012 7:13 PM

And this about this, economists: the grocery bags are most decidedly NOT free - they are included in the price of the groceries. Did you notice the cost of groceries being reduced by the cost of supplying those bags? Me neither.

(Yes, yes, I know the price is negligible by comparison. There are grocery stores here that have started charging between three and five cents per paper grocery bag as a way of encouraging people to bring their own "environmentally conscious" reusable grocery totes - or they'll be happy to sell you their store-branded ones. Did the cost of the previously-free grocery bags come off the price of the groceries? Nah.)

Posted by: Keith Arnold at May 23, 2012 10:44 PM | What do you think? [1]