Well, thank God we’re leaving at some point in some as yet to be determined manner for the European Union has just done another silly thing – banned single use plastics. There’s the point itself, which is that single use plastics are, often enough but not always, the least resource hungry ways of doing something. That is, we save resources by using them instead of paper, or cotton, or whatever. The second and more important thing is the underlying point. Banning something is the idiot’s way of changing the world. Manipulating people into not wanting to use them is the correct and efficient method.
And do note an important thing here. By banning single use plastics the EU is agreeing and admitting that people wish to use single use plastics. There’d be no point in banning something people wouldn’t use anyway now, would there? So, there we have our elected representatives voting to deny us the ability to do as we wish.
Thank God we’re leaving, eh?
The European Parliament has approved a law banning a wide-range of single-use plastic items, such as straws, cotton buds and cutlery, by 2021. Final implementation of the legislation is expected in the next few weeks.
The law, which was supported by 560 Members of the European Parliament against 35 on Wednesday, stipulates that 10 single-use plastic items will be banned in order to curb ocean pollution.
Note the hubris of the very contention. MEPs really do think that central planning – yea, by MEPs – of the material composition of cotton buds but not of toothpicks is the way to rule 500 million people. Having worked for the EU myself and met a number of MEPs I can tell you that the majority have difficulty finding their own arse with both hands. Their knowledge of the correct materials to use at this level of details is zero.
Tobacco companies will be required to cover the costs for public collection of cigarette stubs, which are the second most littered single-use plastic item.
Won’t that be nice. And we’re all absolutely certain that the public authorities will only charge the exact and no more cost of lifting butt butts, right? It won’t turn into an extra shakedown of what is already the highest taxed product on the continent, not at all.
The thing is this will lead to greater resource use, not less:
One lifecycle study on the topic by the UK Environment Agency that appears not to have conflicts of interest found that plastic bags use the least water and energy to produce, compared to paper and reusable cotton bags. To compensate for the difference in resources used to make it, a paper bag must be reused at least three times. Meanwhile, a cotton bag would have to be reused 131 times to negate its carbon and water-use footprint compared to a plastic bag. (Cotton is one of the most water-intensive crops on earth, and is rarely recycled.)
The organic cotton bag must be used thousands of times.
Now, it could be that we do want to reduce such usage. The correct answer there being to work out what it costs us, the social cost, to use single use plastics. Then add a tax of that amount to them. This is a Pigou Tax and it works, we’d end up with the socially optimal amount of single plastics usage. So, why don’t they do that? Partly because banning something is so much fin. But more importantly because the damage is spit and the tax would therefore only be spit. And revealing that would mean admitting that there’s no point to it all anyway.
Still, as I say, lucky we’re leaving this idiocy of a governance system, isn’t it? My argument all along for our leaving being that it’s well, it’s an idiot governance system we’re better off leaving.