Well Done Greenpeace – Banning Plastic Bags Increases Use Of Plastic Bags

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We have another delightful example of the inability of Greenpeace to interact with the real world. That ban on single use plastic bags has led to greater use of plastic to make bags from. You know, the insisted upon policy to solve the problem makes the problem worse?

Plastic “bags for life” should be banned or raised in price, campaigners say, as new figures reveal a surge in the bags is fuelling a rise in the plastic packaging footprint of leading supermarkets.

Despite high profile promises by the country’s best known supermarkets to tackle the amount of plastic waste they create, their plastic footprint continues to rise, according to research from the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Greenpeace.

In 2018, supermarkets put an estimated 903,000 tonnes of plastic packaging onto the market, an increase of 17,000 tonnes on the 2017 footprint.

The surge is fuelled in part by a huge rise in the sale of “bags for life” by 26% to 1.5bn, or 54 bags per household.

If it’s actually desirable to have less plastic being used in bags then shouldn’t we rescind the ban on single use plastic bags? After all, this is now identified as the method which reduces the use of plastic to make bags, isn’t it?

Or perhaps we could make this more fun and just declare open season on hippies?

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Mr Yan
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Mr Yan

Hippies don’t make laws/regulations. The open season should be on those that did without any critical thought of cfc the consequences.

Mr Yan
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Mr Yan

Ignore the cfc word – something went wrong on phone keyboard.

TD
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TD

a season on lawyers perhaps?

Jim
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Jim

It used to be that you got a free thin plastic bag from the supermarket with your purchases, which you then shoved in a drawer and had a plentiful supply of bin liners for household rubbish. Now you have to buy a plastic bag from the supermarket, which is inevitably thicker and bigger than the old ones, and they then get used as bin liners as before (or you buy new bin liners which are also bigger and thicker than the old one use bags). So its guaranteed that more plastic will be being used for an unchanged process (buying… Read more »

Bloke in North Dorset
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Bloke in North Dorset

Yep. Research paper here. Simpler version here. Abstract: Leakage occurs when partial regulation of consumer products results in increased consumption of these products in unregulated domains. This article quantifies plastic leakage from the banning of plastic carryout bags. Using quasi-random policy variation in California, I find the elimination of 40 million pounds of plastic carryout bags is offset by a 12 million pound increase in trash bag purchases—with small, medium, and tall trash bag sales increasing by 120%, 64%, and 6%, respectively. The results further reveal 12–22% of plastic carryout bags were reused as trash bags pre-regulation and show bag… Read more »

Spike
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Spike

The real question is why, if you choose policies to make a statement about yourself, should anyone expect your policies to be effective?

The invention of plastic sheeting that is easy to puncture but hard to rip out did indeed drastically reduce the amount of plastic used in single-use bags. Alas, I preferred the days when more bags permitted a second use after I emptied the groceries out.

Leo Savantt
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Leo Savantt

Many years ago in the centre of hippydom, Glastonbury, the “health” food shop supplier bio-degradable plastic bags. The bags did actually degrade over time. That was in the 1980s, where have these bags gone, perhaps the factory that made them has bio-degraded?

Boganboy
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Boganboy

Must confess I found bio-degradable bags annoying. Indeed when my dear sister visited me, she threw out a huge number that had just decayed in the cupboard.

Usually these days, I just use the plastic containers of a loaf of sliced bread to dump the garbage in.

Bernie G.
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Bernie G.

“54 bags per household.”

Mind-boggling!

Bloke on M4
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Bloke on M4

The problem is that it doesn’t understand people. My wife might call me on the way home from work. Nip into a supermarket and get some more flour. Not a problem. But I don’t have bags in my car because I don’t want a couple of bags sitting there. So, I take a 10p hit? No big deal. A friend of mine suggested that the scheme would only work if you made bags £1-2 each. But then, you’d get some pretty weird effects. Like people would drive home, spewing out CO2 to collect a couple of bags, doing even more… Read more »