Plastic Shopping Bag Ban Latest Bad Idea From Government
Government sometimes tries to fix things that aren't broke with horrible results, and the growing call for a ban on plastic shopping bags is the latest well intentioned plan to go horriby wrong. On the surface of it, anything that would cut the demand for petroleum based materials somewhat would be a very good idea. But plastic shopping bags as used by businesses do serve important purposes and are only a tiny proportion of all plastic used by business. Plastic is used in all sorts of other packing materials including clear windows for food products, clear bags for baked goods, in toys, housewares, automobile parts and all sorts of other goods. Shopping bags are one of the smallest uses of plastic by industry and the business community.
Plastic shopping bags are also waterproof compared to paper bags. Paper bags will quickly break apart in rainy weather with groceries or other goods, causing juice and other glass products to quickly fall out of bag. Plastc bags are safe to carry goods for many blocks without the possibility of products falling out of wet bag like paper. Paper bags not only cost five times more than plastic, but are just not good in wet weather.
Encouraging shoppers to bring extra bags into stores only creates a new shoplifting risk for merchants, and smaller stores will be especially hard hit by this new merchandise security threat that can really hurt smaller merchants with higher merchandise losses. losing an extra $20-30 here and there will really add up for merchants and drive prices up for honest consumers to cover this new theft risk.
Important items such as prescriptions are put into plastic bags for very important safety reasons. If these prescriptions should get wet many would dissolve together and some prescriptions costing $200 or more dollars could be completely ruined and unsafe to take a safe dossage of.
Many plastic bags no doubt are made with at least some cornstarch content or could be safely and will soon deteriorate under sunlight within months anyway. Between the elements many plastic bags actually have a very short life with wind, sun, snow and rain. Many plastic bags are not as long lived as some environmentalists actually believe.
Plastic has proven itself to be a miracle material for industry allowing greatly reduced costs in a wide range of products. And plastic has now only proven itself as both cheaper and safer than many other materials. Toy soldiers for example were once made of harmful lead. They were not as durable and safe as the plastic ones and were highly toxic to small children who often put them in their mouths. Plastic has allowed many goods that were once made out of bakelite or other compounds to be made in more exotic and more precise shapes. Plastic tends to leech harmful toxins to children in toys far less often than many other substances. Painted metal is far less safe than plastic in toys.
Like it or not, plastic does play an important role for industry. Plastic makes consumers cost much less, is sometimes more durable than other materials, it is more safe than many other materials, and it should really be up to the wisdom of the marketplace when plastic is best called for. Governments outlawing shopping bags like San Francisco has done, or Portland and other cities are considering is not a good public policy, and will have only a marginal environmental gain compared to the new expensive problems it will create.