Monday, 4 May 2009

Plastic shopping bag ban lunacy

Ok. Ok. I know I said I'm busy and I am but this one just has to be commented on.

Tim Blair highlights an article about the South Australian government banning plastic shopping bags.
CHECKOUT-style plastic bags will disappear from South Australian shops from the close of business today as the state becomes the first in the nation to ban them.

All retailers - from large supermarkets to small takeaway food shops - are subject to the ban and will offer compostable as well as reusable bags at a cost to consumers instead.

"By banning checkout-style plastic bags we'll be cutting waste to landfill, we'll reduce the amount of litter on our streets, in our parks and our waterways,'' said state environment and conservation minister Jay Weatherill in a statement.

"Producing four billion of these bags across the country each year is an enormous waste of energy and resources and the ban will slash South Australia's share of that waste.''

The ban is expected to remove about 400 million plastic bags from SA's waste each year.

When stores open tomorrow shoppers will either have to carry the reusable so-called "green bags'', or pay up to 25 cents at major retailers for biodegradable bags.
How, exactly will this save even one marine animal's life, which is part the justification for banning them?

This is the lifecycle of a plastic shopping bag:
  • manufacturer makes bag
  • bag goes to supermarket
  • consumer buys goods, which are put in bag
  • bag happily transports goods home
  • groceries unpacked, bag stuck in a bag holder/other bags
  • when its time comes, bag removed from holder and used for rubbish
  • when full, bag tied up and thrown in garbage bin
  • garbage bin goes out on bin night
  • dirty, great garbage truck turns up and empties bin
  • truck wanders off to local tip, deposits contents
  • bag buried
  • R.I.P bag
Here are some plastic bag facts from Canada and I'm sure Australia would be similar:

Environmental Impact
  • They are one of the greenest and most energy-efficient bag materials produced today.
  • Compared to plastic shopping bags, paper bags use 3.4 times more energy, produce 2 times the green house gas emissions and use 17 times more water in their manufacture.
  • The amount of resin used in each bag has been decreased or “lightweighted” over time.
  • Today’s plastic shopping bags use 75 % less resin than they did 20 years ago and 63 % less energy in their manufacture, while maintaining the same strength and durability.
  • Yearly, the manufacture of all the plastic shopping bags used in Canada account for less than one-tenth of 1% of the annual oil and natural gas use in Canada.
  • It takes 7 trucks to haul 2 million paper bags, and only 1 truck to haul 2 million plastic bags.
Health and Safety
  • Plastic shopping bags protect our food from external contaminants, and other serious food borne risks such as Salmonella and e Coli.
Reuse and Recycling
  • Plastic shopping bags enjoy high re-use among Canadians. Independent waste audits show that at least 50% of all plastic bags are reused eg. as kitchen catchers, picking up after pets, carrying lunches and books etc.
  • Conventional plastic shopping bags are 100% recyclable.
  • If all of the plastic bags used in Canada were to end up in landfill, they would make up less than 1% of residential solid waste by weight.
  • Percentage breakdown of municipal landfill is: Organics 45%, Paper 22%, Plastics 9%, Glass 5% and Metals 3%.
  • Plastic shopping bags are not a major component of litter. Studies of Greater Toronto area communities show plastic shopping bags consistently account for less than 1% of urban litter.
The banning of plastic shopping bags is simply an act of bastardy by a government enthralled to environmental interests.

It's the poor who will be hit hardest, of course, which is why the SA government is an immoral piece of crap.

(Nothing Follows)


barking toad said...

The Productivity Commission published an analysis some time ago about the cost/effectiveness of this action.

SA has embarked on a process despite that to appease hippies.

kae said...

Aorta use the bags to go bag their heads.

hoppers said...

Doesn't everyone do what i do & use supermarket bags as garbage bags?

If they ban supermarket plastic bags, I'll have to go out and buy PLASTIC BAGS to put my garbage in.


Ellen K said...

The Green Left is far more concerned with useless public displays of conservation over the real and prudent use of resources. They are already on a track to raise the cost of gas in the U.S. to $8.00 per gallon in order to stampede the mindless masses into costly and questionable hybrids and green machines. And they don't even care if the things break down two years down the road. All that matters is the effort. This is the result of all those kids athletic organizations that gave everyone a trophy just for showing up. Evidently, we all get green goodie points just for trying these silly actions-even if they fail.

barking toad said...

Hoppers, just dump ya rubbish in the recycling bin.

Let the hippies sort it out.

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Anonymous said...

Any idea on the resources used to manufacture, transport etc. the plastic shopping bins compared to the bags? I haven't been able to find a real study. I'd like to find some real numbers so that I can compare which makes more sense to use.

E.g., if a bin has 1000x the environmental impact of a bag, then will I really get 1000x the use out of it?

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