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Fri Jul 12, 2019, 01:11 PM

is this NPR article about plastic bag bans accurate?

It was only about 40 years ago that plastic bags became standard at U.S. grocery stores. This also made them standard in sewers, landfills, rivers and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. They clog drains and cause floods, litter landscapes and kill wildlife. The national movement to get rid of them is gaining steam with more than 240 cities and counties passing laws that ban or tax them since 2007. New York recently became the second U.S. state to ban them. But these bans may be hurting the environment more than helping it.



https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2019/04/09/711181385/are-plastic-bag-bans-garbage

if not, are there articles debunking or countering it?

10 replies, 600 views

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Reply is this NPR article about plastic bag bans accurate? (Original post)
NewJeffCT Friday OP
Bonx Friday #1
NewJeffCT Friday #2
PoliticAverse Friday #3
LineLineNew Reply .
dalton99a Friday #5
PoliticAverse Friday #6
sinkingfeeling Friday #4
MineralMan Friday #7
jberryhill Friday #8
NewJeffCT Friday #9
Igel Friday #10

Response to NewJeffCT (Original post)

Fri Jul 12, 2019, 01:28 PM

1. Probably. But some people hate those bags as much as Trump, so it'll be a tough sell.

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Response to Bonx (Reply #1)

Fri Jul 12, 2019, 01:38 PM

2. hate plastic bags?

or paper bags or the re-usable bags?

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Response to NewJeffCT (Original post)

Fri Jul 12, 2019, 01:51 PM

3. Hey, I remember when people promoted plastic over paper to "save a tree". n/t

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Response to PoliticAverse (Reply #3)

Fri Jul 12, 2019, 01:57 PM

5. .


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Response to dalton99a (Reply #5)

Fri Jul 12, 2019, 01:59 PM

6. The future isn't what it was cracked up to be. And still no flying cars. n/t

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Response to NewJeffCT (Original post)

Fri Jul 12, 2019, 01:53 PM

4. She can get back to me when biodegradable bags are found inside dead

animals or clogging waterways.

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Response to NewJeffCT (Original post)

Fri Jul 12, 2019, 02:02 PM

7. We recycle the plastic bags we end up with.

If we use paper bags at the supermarket, we save them and take them to a local thrift store, which uses them to bag their merchandise. Or, we can put them in the recycling bin, but I like the idea of them being reused.

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Response to NewJeffCT (Original post)

Fri Jul 12, 2019, 02:58 PM

8. It's quite obviously not comprehensive

...and makes a number of inappropriate comparisons.

First - the point about increased sales of trash bags - Well, yes, people who were recycling their plastic bags as trash bags, instead of having them end up as free-range litter, were not the problem in the first place. Absolutely, sales of trash bags increased when people who were behaving responsibly no longer had plastic shopping bags to use for that purpose. But, they are also not the people who are littering in the first place.

Second - the comparison to cloth bags - I don't use reusable cloth bags. I use reusable bags which are themselves made out of recycled plastic. The assumption that every plastic bag user is going to go to cloth is not warranted by any facts.

Third - I'm going to guess you did not actually look at any of the studies cited in that article, but merely relied on the summary written by someone whose qualifications you don't know. The cited Danish study, for example, actually compares a number of different types of bags:

In general, LDPE carrier bags, which are the bags that are always available for purchase in Danish supermarkets, are the carriers providing the overall lowest environmental impacts when not considering reuse. In particular, between the types of available carrier bags, LDPE carrier bags with rigid handle are the most preferable. Effects of littering for this type of bag were considered negligible for Denmark. Carrier bags alternatives that can provide a similar performance are unbleached paper and biopolymer bags, but for a lower number of environ-mental indicators. Heavier carrier bags, such as PP, PET, polyester, bleached paper and tex-tile bags need to be reused multiple times in order to lower their environmental production cost.

Those types of bags are also, for example, the type of reusable bags sold in Carrefour stores in France, and in other supermarket chains.

The actual conclusion of the Danish study is that LDPE reusable bags are preferable to disposables, in terms of impact.

But, if you buy into the false dichotomy between disposable plastic bags and cloth bags - as if there were no other types - and if you don't read the source materials, then you will not realize that the article was written to attract attention by being contrarian.

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Response to jberryhill (Reply #8)

Fri Jul 12, 2019, 03:06 PM

9. Thanks

I appreciate you taking the time to explain all of that

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Response to NewJeffCT (Original post)

Fri Jul 12, 2019, 03:30 PM

10. A lot of things are emotion.

A lot of things that are based on facts are based on a careful selection of the facts. So you wind up with activists 300 miles from the nearest coast wanting to ban straws because they get in the water. In the Caribbean.

Even worse, a lot of things are based on making sure others uphold your morality, esp. if the bans already ensure that others do what you do *or* because the bans don't affect you in the least. For example, I personally don't like straws. Ban straws? It's not my concern. No-pain moral self-righteousness is a winner. (My mother liked sugary-drink taxes. She never drank any, and laughed when she thought about how it would affect the "fat slobs" that she so disliked. Like her eldest son. But I digress.)

The 2011 cloth-tote-bag research was apparently good. Better to use plastic (for various reasons) than cloth, unless you use it well over 100 times. Now, if you actually *wash* it, then it needs to be far more than 100 times. That's the energy needed, CO2, etc., etc.

However, it doesn't account for saved wildlife. On the other hand, if your trash bags never wind up inside porpoises or around ducks' necks, then saved wildlife isn't an issue. Yeah, they may last 10k years in a landfill, but they don't kill Daffy's or Flipper's cousin.

But if you recycle them, then they don't show up in the landfill. (Of course, all the energy in handling them ....)


In European countries often you can get plastic tote bags. I used them while in the Czech Republic. Handy things. On the other hand, they're thicker than the really thin plastic bags, and they don't last as long as cloth bags. Not sure how they stack up. But they, too, can be found on the side of the road. Just not as often. And they still wind up either recycled or in landfill.

One good thing about science classes is that they force you to think in terms of systems and accounting for all the inputs and consequences.

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