Democrats’ environmental activism continues to backfire, as evidenced by the massive spike in consumer purchases of plastic bags in California, which banned supermarkets from using carryout plastic bags to package customers’ groceries.
Researchers at the University of Georgia found that while the plastic-bag ban may have been well-intentioned, it did not stem the use of plastic bags. In fact, it unintentionally fueled enormous sales of commercial trash bags.
“That’s because while plastic grocery bags are viewed as a single-use item, they often find a second use as liners for small trash cans,” Science Daily reported Wednesday.
“When these shopping bags are taxed or taken away, people look for alternatives — which means they buy small plastic garbage bags.”
The increase in sales of trash bags following California’s store plastic-bag ban was staggering.
“The study found California communities with bag policies saw sales of four-gallon trash bags increase by 55%, to 75%, and sales of eight-gallon trash bags increase 87%, to 110%,” Science Daily said of the Georgia research. “These results echo earlier studies that also showed increases in sales of smaller plastic trash bags.”
Yu-Kai Huang, the lead author of the study, is a postdoctoral researcher at Georgia’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources. His report was first published in January in the academic journal Environmental and Resource Economics.
Huang found that plastic-bag bans at supermarkets did not stop consumers from using plastic bags. If anything, it compelled them to buy more trash bags to make up for the free carryout grocery bags they no longer were able to recycle for use in small household garbage cans.
The other irony, of course, is that recycling bags are made of plastic. Chew on that.
“Carryout grocery bags were substituted for similar sizes of trash bags before implementing the regulations,” Huang wrote in his research paper.
“After the regulations came into effect, consumers’ plastic bag demand switched from regulated plastic bags to unregulated bags.”
The massive increase in trash-bag purchases in response to plastic-bag bans at California stores was especially jarring when analyzed by weight.
“By purchasing 4-gallon trash bags, plastic consumption increased by between 30 and 135 pounds per store per month,” the Georgia report said. “The sales of 8-gallon trash bags created an additional 37 to 224 pounds of plastic per store per month.”
Huang said his research underscores that politicians must consider the destructive, unintended consequences of environmental policies before instituting them.
“There’s no clear answer for this,” he said. “Whether the provided free carryout grocery bags are reused is a key to determining the overall effectiveness of the related grocery bag policies.”
To be clear, plastic bags are an environmental hazard. However, the thoughtless approach taken by environmental alarmists — who have made inaccurate predictions about the threat of “climate change” for decades — often exacerbates the problem.
What’s especially farcical is that the same radical environmentalists and climate alarmists who want to ban plastic bags spent the past two years scolding everyone to wear cloth masks, citing the coronavirus pandemic.
1.6 Billion Disposable Masks Entered Our Oceans in 2020 (and this is lagging data!)
— Tracy (𝕮𝖍𝖎) (@chigrl) January 30, 2022
Masks used to fight coronavirus are being discarded in ways that hurt marine life and ecosystems.
— Pattrn (@pattrn) December 31, 2020
In 2020 alone, 1.6 billion masks polluted the ocean, according to OceansAsia. Yet left-wing activists have demanded that everyone wear masks throughout the pandemic.
Similarly, Democrats and their radical environmental constituents demand the United States stop using fossil fuels. Meanwhile, climate czar John Kerry and other climate evangelists fly around the world in gas-guzzling private jets.
As usual, left-wing scolds demand that you abide by the rules, all while they blithely do whatever they want. The worst part of this rank hypocrisy is that their policies and rules rarely solve any problems.