Industry Bag Man

Compton Creek

Compton Creek

Did you catch David Lazarus’ defense article for the plastic bag industry in the Sunday Los Angeles Times business section? What a joke. The whole piece took the side of the plastic industry, which argues that bags are harmless and that banning them will cost the public money and cause people to lose jobs. There was little mention of impacts to the marine environment, let alone the economic impacts of disposal, recycling and clean-up.

Why didn’t he take this tack even further? Maintaining plastic bags in the environment keeps the need for public works staff to clean out catch basins and stormdrains. State taxpayers spend more than $25 million each year to collect and dispose of these goodies. Talk about an economic driver!

Don’t forget the need to keep the beach maintenance workers employed to clean up the beaches. Keep the pollution coming. And finally, where would Heal the Bay be without plastic bags to track?  Would we really need 350 cleanups a year without the harmful bags? The bags are keeping us in business!

Clearly, the article’s premise is preposterous. Personally, I’m more than a little peeved because I spent a half hour talking to the guy and I shot down every myth he trotted out.

No mention of HtB, nor a direct quote from me. (I spent some time talking about the need for the nefarious Stephen Joseph, cartoonish attorney for the Save the Plastic Bag folks, to take off his custom-tailored suit and check out Compton Creek to see the damage done by plastic bags.)

David, if you don’t want to include HtB in your article because it detracts from the premise that bigger, stronger plastic bags are the green solution we’ve been looking for, then that’s fine. Just don’t quote me throughout without attribution.

Wait.  Here’s a painfully obvious solution. If the plastic bag manufacturers can convert their plants to produce bigger and tougher bags, then why don’t they go all the way by producing reusable bags. That way, all our durable plastic bags wouldn’t have to come from Asia!!

Maybe Lazarus needs a roadie to Compton Creek too. I’d be glad to host.

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9 Responses

  1. I’m sure HTB covered this, but in case they left this out in their plea to ban plastic bags here you go! Be informed! Wow, I can’t believe I’m even having to talk about folks banning plastic bags–you guys are something else.

    Our politicians in CA are so thankful for you enviro-whacks, it’s you who will help them pass more non-sense taxes that will help pay more useless salaries. We’re in debt because we’ve been paying for too many of their, keyword, THEIR mistakes. So, why should we be paying more taxes to bail them out.

    Here is something interesting…

    Other vocal proponents of a statewide ban say that plastic bags harm marine life. According to Mr. Garamendi, the ban would make “our planet’s life support system … healthier and more resilient.” In support, the same Los Angeles Times story cited a study that says a purported 100,000 sea animals and 1 million birds are killed each year because of the bags. But this statistic, often bandied about by environmentalists, is based on a 1987 Canadian study, which found that discarded nets killed 100,000 marine mammals between 1981-84. In 2002, an Australian government report misquoted that statistic, instead claiming that plastic bags caused the deaths. That fallacy, unfortunately, has stuck with environmentalists and the media ever since.

  2. […] money to the homeless, too. But before I got a chance to write this, LA Observedbserved points out Spouting Off, by the President of Heal the Bay, who beat me to the punch: The whole piece took the side of the […]

  3. This is ridiculous. You two preach about the freedom of choice? Well i choose not to see plastic bags caught in trees. I choose not to see plastic bags litter our waterways. I choose to do everything in my power to get this bill passed.

  4. I try and bring my reusable bags as much as possible, however there are times where I forget or have too many things to fill my reusable bags so then I must decide paper or plastic. At this point, I run through the whole positive aspect of plastic bags vs paper bags. We know they use less energy, pollute less, are leak resistant and are definitely leaps and bounds more reusable than paper bags! I have pets, small trash can liners, and many other uses for a plastic bag. Besides, when a paper bag gets damp it is useless. And, I always, always recycle my bags if they don’t get used–it’s too easy.

    Also, I’ve noticed and done extensive research into many plastic bags that are made with an additive that allows degradation to occur. They are not corn or sugar based, which prevents recycling, but they are plastic bags made that of natural gas with an additive to help breakdown bags should they go outside of the recycling stream. Most of these bags are produced here in the USA.

    So to sum up my opinion on any type of ban or tax is: NO! Our government does not need to become any larger and enact bans that will never solve the litter issue. I see way more paper and plastic debris such as cups, bottles etc than plastic bags.

    Second, we have enough taxes, in the current state of the economy does it really make sense to add another tax? The theory it will reduce the use of plastic bags I support, however let’s go about it in a different, more civilized manner. And, at the expense of our local, state and federal government. Educate through tv, radio and all school levels. I learned as a little kid to recycle paper because we won pizza party’s when our class recycled the most.

    Also, I checked out and its a campaign that few are aware of. Not many people see the other side of the story, most of their facts on the website can be backed up through our website.

  5. It’s unfortunate that instead of asking the government to moderate an intelligent discussion and debate on the issue Mr. Gold and his minions at Heal the Bay have chosen to shout down anyone that presents science, facts, or merely a logical counter point. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that Mr. Gold and Heal the Bay are guilty of a shameful campaign that grossly distorted scientific and independent studies that are easily found on the Internet. Their willingness to blatantly distort facts to further their causes pales in comparison to the real crime being committed.

    America is a unique country because its citizens are allowed to enjoy freedoms that may not always be popular with certain groups of people. When groups such as Heal the Bay seek government intervention to restrict the most basic of all freedoms, the freedom of choice, all Americans ultimately suffer. While it is difficult to argue that our society is at times wasteful and may suffer from excessive consumerism, do we really want our government to decide whether we get plastic or paper bags? No one has ever been forced to accept a plastic or paper bag.

    The free market will sort this out better than the government ever could. Most Americans are choosing to drive less due to the high cost of gasoline. We didn’t need a law to force people to drive less, they were smart enough to figure it out for themselves. Given enough real information, those same Americans will also decide whether they want to bring their own bags when they shop. We can all envision an America where free paper and plastic bag usage is not the norm. One day businesses may choose to stop offering free bags altogether. The key however is preserving the freedom to make intelligent decisions based on facts, market forces, and changing social norms.

    Before individuals like Mr. Gold cavalierly demand that our government mandate which products stay and which ones go, they should stop and think about some of the freedoms they enjoy today that many others may not feel the same about. It is extremely hypocritical to insist the government restrict the freedom of manufacturers to produce a product because it has become “too popular” or working people to receive a bag that their store “chose” to offer free as a business model yet expect the same government to protect the freedoms that they hold dear.

    As a manufacturer of plastic bags, I already exercised my freedom to change my business model to help the environment and appeal to the demands of the market at the same time. My company produces plastic bags made from recycled plastic which we diverted from Southern California landfills. Imagine that, my 250 employees didn’t need a law to force their leadership to do something to save their jobs and meet the changing needs of the market?

    That is the kind of America which allowed us to become a great nation. The America of Mr. Gold has every unhappy group running to government every time we don’t like something. That America will result in our freedoms and choices methodically eroding to a point that we become a socialist state with everything being decided for us by our government.

    This isn’t even about plastic bags anymore. It’s about whether the role of government should be to intervene at the hands of short-sighted special interest groups such as Heal the Bay. Be careful what you wish for.

  6. Mark, you seem to miss the point that the vast majority of real people already REUSE what you term single use plastic bags. That’s the misnomer – they aren’t single use! Bag manufacturers already make reusable plastic bags so they don’t need to be thicker. I’m sure you support source reduction, the #1 EPA mandate for waste prevention. I’d love to have a real face to face dialogue to actually find solutions to the waste problem if you’re interested.

  7. I’m grateful for what you’re doing.

    We think the plastic situation is bad here – it’s terrifying in other parts of the world. I returned recently from SE Asia. Aside from the plastic crap littering the landscape, every time we got in a boat a moment came when the propeller fouled on plastic nets, baggies or some such and the boat owner had to get out the dinghy and the machete and hack the propeller free.

    I wrote about the plastic pandemic a few days ago. Now I’ve got to figure out how to buy foods like cottage cheese without plastic, and how to store my produce without baggies.

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