Banning plastic bags: the consequences

Plastic bags supermarket trolley: Photo Newshub

Outright bans on things have consequences. They have consequences for those directly involved in the production or marketing of those things that are banned. Think about the effect the government’s announcement to end oil and gas exploration has had on the industry.

We currently have a government that takes a non-consultative approach. In spite of over 100 working groups on all sorts of matters, when it wants to, it will simply ban something outright. No consultation, no research. Bang.

That is what has happened with the production of plastic bags and no one in the government gives a damn about what the consequences will be.

It is because it is all part of an agenda to control our behaviour and what is a few business closures and job losses in the face of that?

Stuff reports that Kiwi Plastics will close at the end of the year. quote:

A plastic manufacturer says people are blaming plastic bags for wrecking the environment, instead of taking responsibility for their own wasteful behaviour.

The decision to phase out single-use plastic bags, announced last week, means Kiwi Plastics will close at the end of the year.

But company owner Angelus Tay said a lack of waste education was the real problem, not the bags.

“The bag can’t defend itself, so you blame the product.” 

People were not recycling plastic bags properly where they could, he said. end quote.

Apparently, over 90% of plastic bags end up in landfills, which is about what I would expect. So, if this really is an attempt to improve marine life, truth is, it will not make much difference. quote:

Tay believed there were no other reliable alternatives to plastic bags in this country, and even took a shot at supermarkets for cashing in by charging a dollar for reusable shopping bags.

“The supermarkets are laughing to the bank.”

People would buy the reusable alternatives because they were “so green”, but they were not hygienic because people were putting meat with other products in the same reusable bag and risked contamination, he said.

Tay said the company had been operating since 1989, but would close at the end of the year.

“The days are numbered because the bags will be gone next year … I’ll tell the staff it’s not my fault, it’s the government policy.” end quote.

There will be more closures and job losses, as a direct result of this government’s completely non-consultative approach to the things they deem to be important. quote:

Total Packaging owner Bob Stewart said Tokyo used more plastic bags in a single day than New Zealand used in a year. end quote.

Now that puts things slightly more into perspective, doesn’t it? quote:

“The argument should be: Go and sort them out before you talk to us.”

Plastic bags might not be the right place to start, he said.

“When I go to the supermarket, there’s more plastic in my cart … plastic for Africa. Then they offer you a bag and you think, ‘well I’ve got 10 tonnes of plastic in here, and you think one bag will save the world?’

“There’s so much pollution and crap out there that you don’t know if this is the right place to start.” end quote

Absolutely. There is so much other plastic but let’s get rid of the useful stuff first. quote:

A manager at a Christchurch bag manufacturer who did not want his name or business to be identified, said the business may be considered the “bad guys”, but agreed the ban on plastic bags was a step forward.

However, he believed the alternatives just did not stack up.

“I don’t think there’s a practical alternative to plastic.”

Biodegradable bags were not as easy to break down as people thought, and there were reasons why people moved away from paper, he said.

“Paper can be incredibly bad for the environment. It can be 14 times’ more harmful for the environment than plastic bags … there’s some real benefits to plastic that people will miss out on.” end quote.

The problem with paper is that it is produced from wood pulp. So, on the one hand, we are planting an extra billion trees (somehow and some time) and on the other, we will need to cut down a lot more trees to satisfy the increased need for paper that this ban will bring. How exactly is that going to lower carbon emissions?

Doesn’t anyone ever think anything through in this government?

I think we already know the answer to that question.

What do you reckon, Eve?

Digital image credit: Pixy
Liberal flower child


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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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