Plastic Bags aren’t Evil

Real Clear Science

It looks like we have been conned again by greenie busybodies. Reminds of a George Carlin video:

Advocates of banning plastic grocery bags often cite impacts on marine life and mammals, but they rarely attempt to quantify that impact. Unfortunately, many attempts to quantify those impacts are simply false or misleading. For example, one city council in Washington state was told “the ecological impacts of this plastic include over a million sea-birds and 100,000 marine mammals killed by either plastic ingestions or entanglement.”

In fact, the claim about harm to marine mammals and sea-birds has nothing to do with plastic bags. NOAA corrected the claimabout seabirds on its web page saying, “We are so far unable to find a scientific reference for this figure.” The only study NOAA can find does not deal with plastic bags or even marine debris, but “active fishing gear bycatch,” in other words, fishing nets that are being used at sea, not discarded plastic bags.

The Times of London addressed this very issue in 2008, even quoting a Greenpeace biologistsaying, “It’s very unlikely that many animals are killed by plastic bags. The evidence shows just the opposite. We are not going to solve the problem of waste by focusing on plastic bags.”

One of the most commonly heard claims is that plastic bags, and other plastic, have created the “Pacific Garbage Patch.” Some claim it is twice the size of Texas. This is simply false. Last year, Oregon State University reported that the actual amount is less than one percent the size of Texas. Oceanography professor Angel White sent out a release last year saying, “There is no doubt that the amount of plastic in the world’s oceans is troubling, but this kind of exaggeration undermines the credibility of scientists.”

Additionally, White notes that the amount of plastic in the ocean hasn’t been increasing. For example, the Wood’s Hole Oceanographic Institute found the amount of plastic in the Atlantic Ocean hasn’t increased since the 1980s.


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  • Razorlips81

    But plastic politicians are very evil!

  • ojwashere

    yes greenie busy bodies are at the front of it  , but also retailers are jumping on the band wagon , saving money ( increasing profits) by making you buy plastic bags that used to be part of the purchase price , all in the green name .

    • Euan Rt

      I think there is probably a legitimate claim that landfills are being clogged with plastic bags, so using your own bags or paper bags will be of some benefit there. But again Cam, an interesting thought provoking post.

      • Rob

        Paper bags take up much more space per unit (they have to be heavier to achieve the same strength), and paper bags tend not to degrade too well in anaerobic environments like landfill either…

        Interestingly enough it takes a lot of oil to make paper too, and because they are heavier per equivalent unit, cost more to ship.

  • Steve (North Shore)

    Carlin is right – the Planet is fine, the People are fucked

  • Igi68

    That wouldn’t be the same NOAA that has just been caught out systematically exaggerating the extent of global warming.

    These eco-scientists are nothing but activists and haven’t a shred of credibility.

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