Plastic bag fuss on West Coast

A lot of plastic news happening in the West Coast particularly in Seattle and Los Angeles that I did not have the time to talk about last week.

According to several news sources, the city council of Los Angeles, California, voted a resolution on July 22 to ban all plastic bags from retail stores starting July 1, 2010 if the state of California fails to impose a pending bill (AB 2058) that would force retailers to charge shoppers 25 cents for each plastic bag provided by supermarkets and large retail stores.

The LA Times reported that the ban was proposed by Councilman Ed Reyes, who called plastic bags “the graffiti of the L.A. River,” which passes through his district.

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) released a statement a day after the news came out and clarified that the council vote was not an actual ban but instead a recommendation

The coalition Savetheplasticbag.com, meanwhile, sued the LA county board when it adopted in January 2008 a phased program to ban plastic bags. The lawsuit was filed on July 17. Last week, the coalition also testified before the California Senate Appropriations Committee in opposition to Assembly Bill 2058.

Maybe that helped because the bill failed to pass the Appropriations Committee last week Thursday, according to the ACC.

“We are pleased to see that the members of the Committee understand that many Californians are already struggling to make ends meet in our current economy.”

The ACC said 58% of Californians recently polled oppose a proposed 25-cent tax on plastic grocery bags. The association said the proposed tax could cost an average family in California about $400 per year.

Savetheplasticbag.com reported that taxing or banning plastic carryout bags in the US will result in the direct loss of approximately 4,000 American jobs.

In the city of Seattle, independent grocers are also fighting back on a recent city council proposal to charge 20 cents on each disposable shopping bags at grocery, drug and convenience stores. The council also proposed a ban on the use of expanded polystyrene (EPS) containers in restaurants, fast food outlets, coffee shops and all other food service establishments.

The EPS ban includes some of the packaging used at grocery stores such as meat trays and egg cartons. The proposed rules are expected to start in January 2009.

The state’s independent grocery association, the Washington Food Industry (WFI), propose to the Seattle City Council to increase the use of reusable bags instead of a tax plan. WFI also proposed its Seattle grocer members to pay customers to reduce bag use and urged the City to become more proactive and less punitive in its actions to encourage bag reuse.

As a consumer, I agree with the WFI for incentives instead of punitive actions. However, I’m also for biodegradable plastics use. I understand that not all plastic bags can be recycled especially if they were in contact with food-based garbage that usually got dumped into a landfill. Why not give us a choice of recyclable as well as biodegradable plastics?

My advice to consumers: Stop jumping into the plastic bag hating bandwagon, don’t let the government imposed needless tax (I don’t want to buy additional plastic just to line my trash can because FYI – paper can’t hold my garbage!) , and support recycling and biodegrable plastic use instead.

If a lot of consumers will agree with me, that will make this biodegradable plastic producer, Diamant Art Coporation, happy.

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