Monday, November 19, 2018

Ho. Co. 04-19: “Authority to Impose Fees for Use of Disposable Bags”

First, I am elated to see local Republicans embracing the concept of progressivity in taxation.  “From each according to his ability,” eh comrades?  And before the pickers of nit chime in, yes, this is a “fee” and not a “tax,” but the point remains unchanged.

Second, while all of you are mucking about with second century tech like “bags,” why is no one discussing the logical alternative?  Transporters. When I want to move objects through space (note to self: perhaps time?) quickly and efficiently, I can think of no better innovation than transporters.  Safeway, beam over my Crunch ‘n Munch.

Third, it has become clear that some of us within the community have fallen under the pernicious influence of Big Bag.  Pity.

I would like to state, for the record and in all seriousness, that I am inclined to support this bill.  While an outright ban on plastic bags, at the state level, would be ideal…I see no reason to oppose the “good” if the “excellent” is not yet an option.  I would like the revenue raised from this fee to be dedicated to environmental clean-up efforts.  Furthermore, while I am sensitive to the argument regarding regressivity, as far as the proposed plastic bag fees are concerned, I don’t see a better point-of-sale fee alternative (pay what you think is fair??).  However, if you assume 10 disposable bags per week, that works out to $26 a year; money is money of course yet this amount seems just onerous enough to encourage people to acquire reusable bags that are better for the environment – which is the point, really.

I would like to review more data on, for example, how well Montgomery County’s system has worked before I would consider giving Dr. Hill’s bill my full-throated support. That said, it reads like a sound public policy measure.  I encourage our County lawmakers to give it serious consideration.    
In solidarity.

1 comment:

  1. I'm all in favor of sensible environmental laws, like a carbon tax, for example. But I don't think the evidence shows that banning/taxing grocery bags makes sense. There are unintended consequences:

    "Are Plastic Bag Bans Garbage?"

    "...But people who used to reuse their shopping bags for other purposes, like picking up dog poop or lining trash bins, still needed bags. "What I found was that sales of garbage bags actually skyrocketed after plastic grocery bags were banned," she says. This was particularly the case for small, 4-gallon bags, which saw a 120 percent increase in sales after bans went into effect.
    Trash bags are thick and use more plastic than typical shopping bags. 'So about 30 percent of the plastic that was eliminated by the ban comes back in the form of thicker garbage bags,' Taylor says. On top of that, cities that banned plastic bags saw a surge in the use of paper bags, which she estimates resulted in about 80 million pounds of extra paper trash per year.

    Plastic haters, it's time to brace yourselves. A bunch of studies find that paper bags are actually worse for the environment...."

    The real problem with the bags is not so much the plastic, but the littering. Maybe attacking this aspect would be more environmentally sound, and less burdensome.