Sunday, December 22, 2013

Sustainability of banning plastic bags from DNews and KPBS

While the videos in Student sustainability video festival 18: Great Pacific Garbage Patch, again, were used to illustrate a talk about plastic water bottles and their caps, plastic bags are another source of the pollution depicted in the videos there and the entries linked from there.  Two of my regular news sources, Discovery News and KPBS, have been covering the movement to ban plastic bags.

DNews summarizes the environmental impact of banning plastic bags in Paper or Plastic: Which Bags Hurt the Environment More?

Paper vs. plastic bags: You'd think this fight would have been settled by now. But as Trace explains, for cities around the world, the fight is more complicated than you'd think.
As you can see, banning bags does not necessarily help with the rate of filling landfills, greenhouse gas emissions, or costs to consumers.  Note, however, that the DNews video ignored the externalities of plastic bags, such as the garbage patch, but only the (now) internalized costs.  I suspect that their analysis might look different if they had.

That’s the big picture.  Follow over the jump for KPBS’s ongoing coverage of how this is playing out in one San Diego County community.

Two weeks ago, I included Ocean Beach Officials Back Ban On Plastic Bags by Erik Anderson in Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Die, Selfish Gene!) on Daily Kos.
SAN DIEGO — Ocean Beach officials have determined nearly 500 million single-use bags are handed out in San Diego every year and they think it's time to change course.

The Ocean Beach Town Council passed a resolution supporting a citywide ordinance that severely limits single-use plastic bags.

The community organization said a ban is inevitable in the city of San Diego and likely will be approved next year.
That was on Tuesday, December 3rd.  Last week, KPBS provided more backstory to then proposed ban and the pushback in More San Diego Groups Add To Debate Over Proposed Plastic Bag Ban.
The San Diego City Council is considering adopting a policy that would ban single-use plastic bags, but a group that represents San Diego's neighborhood markets is speaking out against the proposed plan.

The Council's Rules and Economic Development Committee passed the proposed bag ban in October, and city staff are now working to conduct an economic review and draft language for the ordinance.

The proposed ordinance would not only ban plastic bags, but would enforce a 10 cent charge for paper bags and require shopkeepers to keep records for three years.
To hear the pushback for yourself, watch More San Diego Groups Add To Debate Over Proposed Plastic Bag Ban, which I included in Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Winter Solstice 2013).

A local group representing grocery, convenience and liquor stores is speaking out against the plastic bag ban being considered by San Diego City Council.
This controversy looks like it could become a good case study for my environmental science students on setting environmental policy.  Good thing I’ll be following KPBS until at least February 15th.

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