.

SmartMoney Blogs

Pay Dirt
A daily look at what we buy, how we spend, and the companies that do right - and wrong - by their customers.

Are You For Or Against Plastic Grocery Bags?

The front page of The Wall Street Journal today carries a piece about a lawyer in San Francisco, Stephen Joseph, a British native and registered Democrat who once formed a green patrol to clean litter in his neighborhood. But he has since become an unlikely defender of single-use plastic grocery bags, abhorred by many environmentalists.

Getty Images

Joseph’s adopted city of San Francisco led the way in 2007 by banning plastic bags at large grocery stores, and many other U.S. cities have followed in its path. Last year, Washington D.C. introduced a $0.05 tax on plastic bags, a move designed to give consumers choice and encourage use of paper and canvass bags, or re-use plastic.

Defenders of the plastic bag – especially those who support jobs in the manufacturing industry –  favor recycling and education programs, and say additional taxes will only add to rising grocery bills. According to the American Chemistry Council, plastic bag recycling is on the rise with nearly 855 million pounds recycled in 2009, an increase of 31% since 2005. Incidentally, Joseph runs savetheplasticbag.com, which is not connected to or funded by the American Chemistry Council.

There is also a worldwide movement to ban these bags. Italy introduced a total ban on them last January. In 2002, Ireland introduced a tax on plastic bags. I lived there when the government introduced a €0.15 ($0.21) tax on plastic bags. They used to blow down the sidewalks like tumbleweed, but people still did not like paying for them.

I frequently witnessed sales assistants in shops being berated by customers when they were asked to cough up the money for the bags. It didn’t help that Ireland’s tax on single-use plastic bags was raised to €0.22 ($0.30) in 2007 and, last year, one department store actually refused to pay the tax, withdrew the single-use bags entirely and upped the price of the reusable plastic bags. That said, plastic bag use in Ireland plummeted and Irish people soon came to recycle or use paper bags, and accept the tax.

If a plastic bag tax was proposed in your city, would you fight it?

Comments

We welcome thoughtful comments from readers. Please comply with our guidelines. Our blogs do not require the use of your real name.

Comments (5 of 10)

View all Comments »
    • By WebOsPublisher

      I am unable to merge icons into bins. – Bins by 1UP Industries: Feedback
      /*
      ———————————————————–
      Link color
      ———————————————————–
      */
      .uvCustomLink-color,
      a,
      .uvHelp,
      .uvTabSelect,
      .uvTab-dropdown .uvFieldPlaceholder,
      .uvModule-session .vcard .uvRememberMe a,
      .uvBreadcrumbs a,
      .uvStyle-linkArrow
      color: #2c3669;

      .uvCustomLink-background,
      .uvTab-selected,
      .uvTab-selected .uvFieldSelect,
      .uvPagination .current
      background-color: #2c3669;

      /*
      ———————————————————–
      Primary color
      ———————————————————–
      */
      .uvCustomPrimary-color
      color: #3a458a;

      .uvCustomPrimary-background,
      .uvUserBadgeLabel
      background-color: #3a458a;

      /*
      ———————————————————–
      Secondary color
      ———————————————————–
      */
      .uvCustomSecondary-color
      color: #3030ff;

      .uvCustomSecondary-background
      background-color: #3030ff;

      /*
      ———————————————————–
      Background color
      ———————————————————–
      */
      .uvCustomBackground-color
      color: #dee1ed;

      .uvCustomBackground-background,
      .uvMasthead
      background-color: #dee1ed;

      /*
      ———————————————————–
      Status colors
      ———————————————————–
      */
      .uvStyle-status-under-review
      background-color: #999999;
      color: #FFF;

      .uvStyle-status-planned
      background-color: #F0BA00;
      color: #FFF;

      .uvStyle-status-started
      background-color: #6FBC00;
      color: #FFF;

      .uvStyle-status-complete
      background-color: #256dad;
      color: #FFF;

      .uvStyle-status-closed
      background-color: ;
      color: #FFF;

      .uvStyle-status-completed
      background-color: #7D7EDF;
      color: #FFF;

      .uvStyle-status-declined
      background-color: #BBBBBB;
      color: #FFF;

      /* Defaults
      ———————————————– */
      body
      margin: 0px;
      padding:0;
      color: #000000;
      font-family: Segoe UI, Arial, Sans-Serif;
      line-height: 20px;
      font-size: 14px;
      background-repeat: repeat-x;
      background-image: url(cdn.images.oneupindustries.com/cdn/v3/Bins/images/back2.png);
      background-color: #dee1ed;
      height:100%;
      min-height: 100%;

      .banner1

      background-image: url(cdn.images.oneupindustries.com/cdn/v3/Bins/images/banner2full.png);
      height:117px;
      position:relative;
      left:-439px;
      width:840px;
      margin:0 auto;

      .header
      color: #ffffff;
      font-family: Segoe UI, Arial, Sans-Serif;
      line-height: 13px;
      font-size: 13px;
      font-weight:bold;
      width:1140px;
      margin-left:auto;
      margin-right:auto;
      height:30px;
      position:relative;
      vertical-align:middle;
      top:0px;

      .header td
      vertical-align:middle !important;

      .headerimage
      position:relative;
      top:1px;
      left:-1px;
      vertical-align:top;

      .headerlink

      margin-left:20px;
      text-decoration: none;
      background-color: transparent;

      .headerlink:hover

      text-decoration: underline;
      background-color: transparent;

      .headerlink:active

      text-decoration: underline;
      background-color: transparent;

      .headerlink:focus

      text-decoration: underline;
      background-color: transparent;

      .nohilightlink

      background-color: transparent;

      .nohilightlink:hover

      background-color: transparent;

      .nohilightlink:active

      background-color: transparent;

      .nohilightlink:focus

      background-color: transparent;

      form input,
      form textarea,
      form select
      font-family: arial, san-serif;

      /* UserVoice defaults
      ———————————————– */
      .uservoice-component
      font-size: 10px;
      font-family: arial, san-serif;
      color: #333;

      .uservoice-component .clear-fix
      clear: both;

      .uservoice-component strong
      font-weight: bold;

      .uservoice-component code
      background-color: #eee;
      padding: 0 2px;

      /* UserVoice layout
      ———————————————– */
      .uservoice-component .page
      margin: 0 auto;
      width: 870px;

      .uservoice-component .sidebar
      float: right;
      width: 264px;
      zoom: 1;

      .uservoice-component .main-column
      float: left;
      width: 580px;

      .uservoice-component .main-column
      display: inline;

      .uservoice-component #ribbon
      margin-top: 20px;

      .uservoice-component #forum
      margin-bottom: 20px;
      padding: 10px 0 20px 10px;

      .settings-layout .uservoice-component #forum
      padding-right: 10px;

      /* Forum background
      ———————————————– */
      #forum
      background-color: #fff;
      -moz-border-radius: 0.8em;
      -webkit-border-radius: 0.8em;

      .light-background #forum
      border: solid 1px #ddd;

      .has-sidebar #forum
      background: #fff url(/images/backgrounds/light-gray.png) 606px 0 repeat-y;

      .light-background #forum
      background-position: 604px 0;

      /* Anchor styles
      ———————————————– */
      a:hover img,
      a:focus img
      background-color: transparent;

      Home
      Download
      FAQ
      About
      I suggest you …
      ← Suggestions
      I am unable to merge icons into bins.
      I downloaded and installed Bins and proceeded through the introduction/welcome to bins information series. While I did drag icons atop each other to see the blank area above each icon, I did not actually merge any icons into a bin. Now I am unable to merge the icons at all, and have to manually run the bins options to get the icon to show up in the system tray. I have looked (Briefly) online for folks with a similar issue to mine, but have been unable to find anyone. Can you help me please?
      1
      vote
      Vote
      0 votes
      Vote
      Vote
      Vote
      Sign in
      prestine
      Your email address
      Check!
      invalid email
      (thinking…)
      Reset
      or sign in with
      UserVoice password
      Forgot password?
      Create a password
      Your name
      I agree to the terms of service
      You’ll receive a confirmation email with a link to create a password (optional).
      Signed in as
      (Sign out)
      Close
      Close
      1 vote
      2 votes
      3 votes
      Remove votes
      You have left!
      (?)
      (thinking…)
      Jeremiah Marks
      shared this idea
      ·
      Feb 13, 2012
      ·
      Flag idea as inappropriate…
      ·
      Admin →
      Tweet
      1 comment
      Add a comment…
      Sign in
      prestine
      Your email address
      Check!
      invalid email
      (thinking…)
      Reset
      or sign in with
      UserVoice password
      Forgot password?
      Create a password
      Your name
      I agree to the terms of service
      You’ll receive a confirmation email with a link to create a password (optional).
      Signed in as
      (Sign out)
      Close
      Close
      Post comment
      Submitting…
      Jeremiah Marks
      commented
      ·
      February 13, 2012 5:41 p.m.
      ·
      Flag as inappropriate
      ·
      Delete
      uninstall/reboot/reinstall resolved the issue.
      New and returning users may sign in
      Sign in
      prestine
      Your email address
      Check!
      invalid email
      (thinking…)
      Reset
      or sign in with
      UserVoice password
      Forgot password?
      Create a password
      Your name
      I agree to the terms of service
      You’ll receive a confirmation email with a link to create a password (optional).
      Signed in as
      (Sign out)
      Close
      Close
      Sign in
      Sign in
      Sign up
      Cancel
      New users can just enter their email address :)
      Feedback
      10
      10 votes
      Suggestions
      Post a new idea…
      All ideas
      My feedback
      New features 81
      Suggestions 118
      Tweaks 68
      Feedback and Knowledge Base
      Search
      Search
      (thinking…)
      Reset
      Searching…
      No results.
      Clear search results
      Give feedback
      Bugs 237 ideas
      Suggestions 352 ideas
      Bins by 1UP Industries
      Bins by 1UP Industries
      ·
      Bins by 1UP Industries: Feedback
      ·
      © 2012
      ·
      Terms of Service
      $name
      if is_private
      (private)
      /if
      $idea_count ideas
      $name
      if is_private
      (private)
      /if
      $idea_count ideas
      (function()
      var e = document.createElement(‘script’);
      e.src = document.location.protocol + ‘//connect.facebook.net/en_US/all.js#xfbml=1&appId=’+46468144668;
      e.async = true;
      document.getElementById(‘fb-root’).appendChild(e);
      ());
      function mpq_event(e, data, callback)
      if(callback !== undefined)
      callback();

    • Start it up and let it get hot, Now wear a good heavy cloth glove and get a copper pan scebrubr and wipe off, be careful it does have to get hot first. and tighten your bags up the next time, You might be able to sew some Kevlar safety sleeve material on the bags in that area,you can use dye to color the kevlar.

    • Roplast Industries makes large, thick, reusable plastic bags. They contain more plastic than the flimsy, single-use bags, but in the long-term, says Roplast President Robert Bateman, they’re better for the environment. The company’s bag “will hold five or six times as much as the standard disposable bag,” he says. “And it is reusable. It can dramatically change the amount of plastic used.” The plastics industry said it would sue on environmental grounds. Sharon Kneiss of the American Chemistry Council says that, by banning plastic, Fair fax was giving a tacit endorsement to use paper bags, which could hurt the environment. Thanks for sharing…
      printed plastic bags

    • The system was not designed to handle unchecked legislation. The courts have been inundated by wayward legislation to the tune of several thousand valid cases a year that are never heard because they never make it through the pool. Lincoln was to sign adoption to a new amendment in the Constitution the day after his assassination. That amendment would have made unconstitutional legislation a crime punishable by imprisonment. Thus anyone who signed into law an unconstitutional bill could have been convicted and sent to prison and likewise for unconstitutional exercise of power. The plastic bag ban is just another drop in the bucket when held to the countless unconstitutional laws in this nation. These cannot be stopped until legislative accountability is enforced.

    • Bad journalism. How do you know that Joseph’s group is not connected to or funded by the American Chemistry Council. Did he provide proof for his claim? My understanding is that he refuses to provide a list of the companies that provide his funding. On Joseph’s own website he mentions that his group shares membership with the ACC. This seems like a connection to me.

About Pay Dirt

  • Pay Dirt examines the millions of consumer decisions Americans make every day: What to buy, how much to pay, whether to rave or complain. Lead written by Quentin Fottrell, the blog examines these interactions, providing readers with news, insight and tips on shopping, spending, customer service, and companies that do right – and wrong – by their customers. Send items, questions and comments to quentin.fottrell@dowjones.com or tweet @SMPayDirt.

.