If you are a Washington D.C. resident and prefer a plastic bag at the grocery store, you must now hand over a nickel. If you’re a Virginia resident, you might soon be handing over two dimes for one plastic bag.
Why? Because Virginia House of Delegates member Joseph Morrissey thinks this new plastic bag tax is a good idea and is scheduled to introduce legislation on the matter in the coming weeks. He is hoping this tax will persuade shoppers to use reusable canvas bags instead of plastic.
“This is nothing more than a plan to raise revenue for the state,” says Bill Wilson, president of Americans for Limited Government (ALG). “This attempt to ban the use of plastic bags is nothing more than fulfilling an item on the wish list of a left-leaning environmentalist.”
In an interview with Morrissey, The List asked him what his motivation was for implementing a bag tax. His answer, “Morrissey says it’s not about raising revenue, but about changing people’s attitudes and reducing bag trash. ‘Two billion — that’s with a ‘b ’— end up in rivers, landfills, and crops,’ Morrissey says. He takes a moment to describe the detrimental effects of a plastic bag that gets into a cotton bale. ‘The whole bale could be ruined.’ ”
But according to American Plastic Manufacturing, “Studies have shown that 80 to 90 percent of the population reuses plastic grocery bags at least once. As trash bin liners, for picking up after pets, as lunch sacks, holding wet laundry, etc. Plastic bags are also very easy to recycle, and most grocery stores provide bag recycling bins.”
The website went onto say that plastic bags don’t make up a significant amount of litter or landfill waste. “Plastic bags make up less than one percent of all litter. Cigarette butts, fast food packaging, and food wrappers are much larger contributors. The average person uses about 500 plastic grocery bags per year, which by weight is about the same as a phone book or two. By comparison, the average person generates nearly one ton (2,000 pounds) of garbage each year. The major contributor to landfills is paper, wood and construction debris.”
As plastic bags continue to be disapproved of for use by environmentalists, are paper bags or reusable canvas bags a better option?
Reuseit.com, a site in support of a plastic bag tax, states that the solution to the plastic bag is not the paper bag. “Paper bags require more material per bag in the manufacturing process,” the site claims.
It goes on to cite a Boustead Consulting & Associates report that gives reasons as to why paper is not a good alternative to plastic. “The added requirements of manufacturing energy and transport for the compostable and paper bag systems far exceed the raw material use in the standard plastic bag system.”
What about reusable canvas bags?
Though these types of bags seem to cater well to the environmentalist’s agenda, they still face opposition. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) is asking for a federal investigation into the reusable bags after learning that lead was used in the manufacturing process of some bags, which could potentially pose health or environmental concerns to consumers.
A USA Today article quoted Sen. Schumer as saying, “Federal agencies need to put a ban in place for reusable bags that have lead in them,” Schumer said in a statement. In a letter asking the Food and Drug Administration to open an investigation into the issue, he says, “Any situation where lead bags are coming into contact with the food being purchased by Americans needs to be immediately investigated and resolved.”
So now what? Paper bags aren’t good for the environment, the residents of Virginia might soon face a 20-cent tax on plastic bags and some reusable bags contain lead, which could potentially contaminant the food they carry.
What alternatives are left for collecting and transporting food from the store? A very simple one: stop the environmentalist agenda and allow people to shop using whatever bag they prefer.
The problem isn’t the grocery bags; it is the left-leaning environmentalist politicians who love to tax, tax, tax. Don’t be surprised if a plastic bag tax makes it way to a grocery store near you.
Rebekah Rast is a contributing editor at ALG News Bureau. You can follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RebekahRast.