After over two dozen cities around the nation have banned plastic bags, Dallas officially joined this year at 5 cents per bag. This new imposed fee encourages the use of reusable bags. However, the Dallas plastic bag ban will end up having a negative effect on the city.
Contrary to the myth propagated by environmental lobbyists, plastic bags are not a significant source of waste. Indeed, the national 2009 Keep America Beautiful study does not even include plastic bags in its top 10 sources of litter. A recent study found that plastic grocery bags make up less than 0.6 percent of the overall waste stream.
Negative effects of a plastic bag tax:
- Stores affected by bag bans reported an increase in missing shopping carts and hand baskets.
- Stores inside the Los Angeles ban area reduced their employment by more than 10 percent. Stores outside the ban area increased their employment by 2.4 percent. This occurred despite the fact that the overall unemployment rate in Los Angeles County fell dramatically.
- The cost to taxpayers also will rise as lawsuits are filed challenging these bans.
Reusable bag dangers:
- On the economic front, China is the leading manufacturer of reusable bags, while plastic bags are made in the U.S. with the industry employing thousands of workers.
- When the bags are used to carry meats, poultry or fish, blood and other fluids can soak into them. If not cleaned regularly and stored properly, bacteria — including E. coli — can take up residence and mold can form.
Free plastic bags benefits:
- Plastic bags reused to line bathroom trash bins, collect dog waste and used cat litter, to securely seal soiled diapers and more.
- A number of major retailers have set up recycling boxes at the entrance of their stores to encourage recycling, and plastic bag recovery has increased by 31 percent since 2005 and according to EPA data, this growth is more than nine times the 3.4 percent increase in recovery of all municipal solid waste from 2005 to 2009.
Consumers like choice, and most choose plastic bags for their convenience, flexibility and strength. Evidence indicates that cities with bag bans lose, where people cannot choose.