Plastic Pollution, Bag Bans
July 23 2012

More Evidence Plastic Bag Legislation Works

by Bill Hickman

Plastic bag legislation is relatively new but the results are coming in shows them to be effective in reducing plastic bags with little resistance from consumers.  Recent reports from Long Beach, CA, Sunnyvale, CA and Quebec Province in Canada all show positive results.  Whether it's a plastic checkout bag ban or a fee, plastic legislation works.  It's clear with our growing population that plastic pollution is growing at an alarming rate and we need legislation like this to help prevent our oceans, bays and lakes from becoming plastic soups.  Plastic bags are just the tip of the plastic pollution iceberg, but a commonly littered item with an easy solution in reusable bags.  Let's tackle plastic bags and move on to finding ways to prevent other types of plastic pollution as well.

The Long Beach Business Journal reports that "The transition to comply with the City of Long Beach ordinance banning single-use, plastic carryout bags has been smooth for both large and small retailers that offer food items, according to Long Beach Environmental Services Bureau (ESB) Manager Jim Kuhl.  “The compliance has been really good,” Kuhl said. “We’re hearing that some stores not covered by the ban have decided to eliminate plastic bags and or charge for paper bags. We’ve heard of a few of the non-food retailers doing this.” One example, Kuhl said, is Orchard Supply Hardware, which he said has eliminated plastic bags from its stores in Long Beach. “What we’re hearing from some of the corporate people, for stores that are not covered by the ban, if a jurisdiction implements a ban their corporate policy is to follow it, even if it’s not mandated,” he said.

Save The Bay in Northern California recently posted a blog about the plastic bag ban enacted a month ago in Sunnyvale: "Many residents were pleased to hear that their city jumped on the plastic bag ban-wagon since neighboring cities have already enacted similar sanctions.  A few months before the June deadline, the city posted several signs in front of grocery outlets, shopping center parking lots, and other stores in an attempt to warn shoppers about the upcoming change. During the first few days of the bag ban, several retail stores helped shoppers adjust to the new change by handing out free reusable bags."

CBC News in Canada recently posted a story titled "Quebecers cut plastic bag use in half" and goes on to say "Many stores in Quebec now charge a five-cent fee for providing plastic bags.  But Arcand credits Quebecers' growing environmental awareness for the shift in bag use.  "People...view this as something very practical," Arcand said, speaking to reporters Monday at a Montreal grocery store. "It's a question of habit."