Around the world, albeit not aggressively enough, governments are taking actions small and large to change our paths when it comes to energy and resource use. For example, multiple governments have taken action to reduce or eliminate disposable plastic shopping bags. Ireland, for example, has come close to eliminating plastic bags. In Ireland, businesses and interest groups fought the policy but …
Today, Ireland’s retailers are great promoters of taxing the bags. “I spent many months arguing against this tax with the minister; I thought customers wouldn’t accept it,” said Senator Feargal Quinn, founder of the Superquinn chain. “But I have become a big, big enthusiast.”
Sadly, around the globe, business interests work to inhibit sensible moves forward. This ranges from “clean coal” front organizations to companies fighting efforts to reduce or eliminate plastic shopping bags.
On Earth Day, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported on a Pennsylvania battle to help move the state beyond disposable shopping bags.
Growing acceptance of programs [to move to reuseable bags] spurred state Rep. Lisa Bennington, a Democrat from Morningside, to introduce a bill that would phase out the use of nonbiodegradable plastic bags at large stores in Pennsylvania that carry groceries.
Sadly, however, lobbying from industry groups convinced her to water down the bill. Rather than phasing out plastic bags, the bill now calls for recycling programs. Question for all of us: Just what percentage of grocery store plastic bags do we think is recycled? I don’t know the number but it seems almost certain to be rather low.
Just as the ‘recycling’ of plastic bags relies on volunteerism (e.g., it happens but far from all people are doing it), so too does the discussion of using reuseable bags in the Pennsylvania debate. Stores are ‘willing’ to allow people to use reuseable bags “from other stores” after all
There also is some leeway for individual stores on the department store chain’s policy of getting merchandise into bags rather than letting customers just go bagless. “It’s not necessarily a hard and fast policy,” said Mr. Sluzewski [spokesperson for Macy’s].
In the end, he’s not sure how many shoppers will decide to bring their own, rather than walk out with a new department store bag. “It does require you to remember to take them. But if it’s important to customers, they’ll do it.”
Yes, the world’s problems will be solved with volunteerism. We can’t be so ridiculous as to expect regulation to be part of the solution, can we? And, to require that people bring their own bags or pay for reusesable bags. The outrage, the outrage.
A number of businesses (and business organizations) lobbied to water down the proposed measure … successfully. These included Walmart, pushing for a watering down while promoting their ‘green’ and earth friendly products and the “Progressive Bag Alliance“.
founded in 2005 and is a group of American plastic bag manufacturers who use legal threats and lobbying strategies to slow, stop or weaken ordinances banning plastic grocery bags. The group carries out these activities while advocating recycling plastic shopping bags as an alternative to banning the bags.
Guess that they can chalk up another win for their annual bonus compensation.
For background on the travesties of plastic bags, see Take your canvas bags …