Save the fish: Ban plastic bags

Pieces of plastic in the ocean. Image via NOAA.

Quote:

It’s the latest moral panic. Soon, we’re told, there will be more plastic in the sea than there are fish. The floating island of plastic known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is now three times the size of France. Fish are becoming so addicted to pollution they actually prefer plastic microbeads to real food. It’s killing whales. Etc.

Of course I can see why governments are keen to be seen responding to this terrible threat. If you’re as desperately useless as Theresa May’s UK government, for example, it makes perfect sense to try to distract everyone from your incompetence by launching bold anti-plastic initiatives which get you a big thumbs up from national treasures like Sir David Attenborough and which don’t cost the public purse much money.

But I wish they wouldn’t bother. As this article from Inside Sources demonstrates – and it really ought to be required reading for all those bansturbators out there working themselves into a righteous frenzy about just how Medieval they’re going to get on plastic’s ass – these plastic bans, in the West at any rate, are a complete waste of space. End quote.

Delingpole on Breitbart writes the first sensible article in a long time about the banning of plastic bags, particularly in Western countries. He is telling us something that most of us already know. Banning plastic bags will make little or no difference to the marine environment. Quote:

The pollution is predominately fish nets

Interestingly, the primary culprits weren’t straws, cups and plastic bags. In The Ocean Cleanup’s Pacific patch sample, 46 percent was fish nets. When combined with ropes and lines, it amounted to 52 percent of the trash. The rest included hard plastics ranging from large plastic crates and bottle caps to small fragments referred to as microplastics, which comprise 8 percent of the mass. Obviously, this is not simply a consumer waste issue, and the solutions need to address that.

Most of the other pollution comes mainly from Asia or Africa

Some of the waste, such as food packaging, included written material that indicated a significant portion came from Asia. Of these, 30 percent where written in Japanese and 30.8 percent were in Chinese.

Other studies confirm that Asia is a substantial source of ocean garbage. Data in a 2015 Science published study revealed that China and 11 other Asian nations are responsible for 77 percent to 83 percent of plastic waste entering the oceans because of their poor disposal practices. A 2017 Environmental Sciences & Technology study reported that up to 95 percent of plastic waste enters oceans from one of 10 rivers — eight in Asia and two in Africa.

The West’s record, especially America’s, is actually pretty good. This is thanks mainly to technology and good practice, not consumer bans. End quote.

I always struggle to understand why governments insist on banning things when all the evidence (if they bothered to read it) suggests that a ban will make little or no difference to the overall picture. Human behaviour, being what it is, can be better controlled by education rather than outright bans. How can we expect people to learn how to behave when all we do is take away the thing they are using or disposing of incorrectly? That doesn’t teach anybody anything.

If all the evidence says that the packaging in the oceans comes from Asia, then banning plastic bags in New Zealand will achieve absolutely nothing. It won’t stop the zealots though. It is all about being seen to be doing the right thing for the environment. Even if it makes absolutely no difference at all.

Take a trip on the Cook Strait Ferry and, apart from the fact that throwing rubbish overboard is strictly forbidden, you will hardly see an item of litter anywhere on the trip. The waters are pristine, and let’s face it, we all like it that way. People in New Zealand mostly love their environment and make a big effort to keep it clean. So banning plastic bags here, Australia, Europe or America will make little or no difference to the survival of marine life. Yet it is these countries that are forced to make sacrifices to their way of life. Quote:

There are better, market-driven solutions than bans. And they work

The nonprofit Keep America Beautiful (KAB) has taken the lead in the United States to fight litter since 1953. KAB educates the public through public service announcements — such as the weeping native American ad from the 1970s — and mobilization of businesses, individuals and local governments to implement litter control programs. In fact, KAB reports that U.S. litter has declined by 61 percent since 1969.

Today, The Ocean Cleanup is assuming a similar role to clean the oceans. In addition to offering valuable research, it maintains it has developed and can deploy cleanup technologies that could remove more than 50 percent of the waste from the Pacific patch within five years, which would be quite a remarkable achievement if it can do it without significant harm to wildlife. End quote

These schemes, (particularly to hoover up plastic in the oceans) can be very effective. There are quite a few of them, from Seabin Australia to the Ocean Cleanup System. Or alternately, we could try some sort of penalty on countries that do pollute the oceans. Quote: 

But I have to say, it does fill me with despair when conservative newspapers and conservative ministers – you know exactly who you are – play this stupid game of: “We may be conservatives, but we can jolly well be at least as fanatically green as any deranged leftist or enviro-loon, and here is a zealous eco campaign to prove it.” End quote.

I love a bit of sardonic commentary. The British are masters at it. It almost makes the Guardian worth reading. Actually, probably not. In the end, though, he is right. Banning plastic bags, plastic straws, wet wipes and cotton buds (yes, Britain is looking at banning those too) will do little or nothing to save the environment. It is the sledgehammer effect, but it will do nothing, other than making people’s lives a little bit harder.

But I thought I would leave you with this little gem from Stuff Quote:

A Nelson supermarket is slashing its use of plastic with no plastic bags at the checkout and free paper bags for other food departments.

FreshChoice Nelson is believed to be the first supermarket in New Zealand to take such drastic measures against plastic.

It estimates the change, from June 11, will eliminate about 3000 plastic bags a day in its store, or about 1 million a year.

A’Court said the move from plastic to paper involved a “big cultural change” and he hoped customers would support the initiative.

“Our customers really want it. It’s never been easy because we’ve always been concerned about our opposition.

“But now … the industry knows it has to do something, but everyone is a little bit scared about going first to be honest and everyone is worried about their customer reaction.”

A’Court said charging for plastic bags would not stop them harming the environment.

“The only way to solve the problem is to ban the bag and that’s exactly what we’re going to do.” End quote.

If your customers really wanted it, you wouldn’t be giving out 3000 plastic bags a week. I love being told what I want, even if I don’t want it at all.

What is this going to achieve? People will now have to buy plastic bin liners, which are much less degradable than the supermarket plastic bag. Everyone seems to forget that plastic bags are recyclable, and many supermarkets now provide recycling bins for exactly that, including softer plastic wrap for other products.

I hope it makes you feel good, Mr A’Court, but just think about this. If you believe in global warming, which I suspect you do, then you need to think about the trees being cut down to provide those paper bags you are now providing. Fewer trees, more carbon dioxide… you are actually damaging the environment, not saving it. Virtue signalling is everything, that is what you are doing and that is all that you are doing.

I’m going to leave the last word to Delingpole, mainly because he is so brilliant. Quote:

Plastic bans won’t save the baby whales. They will cause us a heap of inconvenience and economic damage – neither of which were conservative desiderata. At least not last time I looked. End quote.

Back at ya, Mr Delingpole. You are absolutely right.


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Accountant. Boring. Loves tax. Needs to get out more. Loves the environment, but hates the Greens. Has been called a dinosaur. Wears it with pride.

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