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Plastic Grocery Bag Tax, AB 2058

I heard a commercial on the radio and visited the website… www.stopthebagtax.com. Check it out.

Basically, there’s a bill to tax consumers $0.25 for each plastic bag they get when they go grocery shopping. The commercial and website urge you to tell your legislator to oppose the bill. Mmmmmm yeah…. so… several things…

  • “That adds up to about $400 per family per year!”
    You’re an idiot if you know you’re being taxed 25 cents per bag and you haven’t done anything to reduce your use of plastic bags. That figure is based on some pretty ridiculous assumptions. Then again, there’s a lot of pretty ridiculous people who will buy into that figure. (They’re assuming families use an average of ~30 bags a week.)
  • “Plastic bags are fully recyclable.”
    Regardless of their definition of “fully recyclable”, recycling isn’t a process where a material is magically resurrected. The entire process, from collection to breakdown to manufacture to redistribution uses many resources. That, and many bags are not properly disposed of or recycled. Instead, they become environmental eyesores and hazards.
  • “Sponsored by the Progressive Bag Affiliates of the American Chemistry Council and The California Film Extruders and Converters Association”
    In other words, this is an obvious attempt by the bag manufacturing companies to save their own asses.

So, do I support the tax? My knee-jerk reaction was “yes” just to spit in the bag-manufacturers’ faces for their lame attempt at persuading people to oppose the tax. However, after some consideration… My question is, although it’s convincing that the use of disposable bags should be reduced, what’s the most effective way to achieve that goal? Taxes mean more bureaucracy, more of the government sticking its fingers in other peoples’ business. Ideally, the effort would come from consumers and retailers, like how Ikea is charging 5 cents each for their plastic bags or how Ralph’s (a grocery chain) gives you a 5 cent refund for every bag you bring.

I’m not proposing any specific solutions, but I think there are better ways than imposing a tax to discourage the distribution of plastic bags. Sometimes government involvement gives people a good kick in a certain direction, like how Santa Monica and San Francisco banned styrofoam take-out containers. However, this case is different to me because it involves handling money, which is much more of a logistical nightmare.

Now I’m kinda hoping all the tree-huggers out there don’t go urging their legislators to support the tax. If “the people” are in favor of reducing plastic bag usage, they can uhhh… STOP USING PLASTIC BAGS. Why go through government when your own actions are what make a difference.


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  1. toni edwards said,

    July 30, 2008 @ 4:08 pm

    i shop at ralph’s, have began to take my own bags to the store, hope noone will allow government to tax plastic store bags!! say No To The Tax On Bags!!

  2. Vanessa said,

    July 30, 2008 @ 5:01 pm

    I just heard that commercial and went to the web site and thought the EXACT same thing. I was wondering what they were whining about, if it would cost $400 a year, why not spend $10, get ten cloth bags and be done with it? Now that I know who is behind the ad it’s even more exasperating.

  3. J. Cemer said,

    July 31, 2008 @ 2:16 pm

    it is ludicrous to punish consumers by charging for merchandise bags. Instead REWARD themfor bringing their own “tote bag” (about $1 ea.) by giving a decent CREDIT of $.25 on their bill for each bag brought with the consumer. (no incentive for only 5 cents per bag) Double benefit: sale of cloth bags will increase.

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