California is soon to be the first state to outlaw plastic bags from grocery stores.  Never mind that the production of paper bags is more detrimental to the environment.  Does anyone remember “Use a plastic bag save an owl”?  That is the irony of this issue.  Plastic bags were initially pushed to consumers for environmental reasons and now we have been mandated to use paper bags instead for the same reasons.

There are Ten myths about plastic bags and the environment at least.  The bottom line is- this law is not going to do much to impact our environment and it is another case of government invasion on our private lives and hindering free market competition.

From News 10:

“The bill would prohibit single-use plastic bags at grocery stores and large pharmacies in 2015 and at convenience stores in 2016.

It includes $2 million in loans to help manufacturers shift to producing reusable bags and lets grocers charge 10 cents each for paper and reusable bags.

A statewide ban had been a goal for lawmakers trying to reduce the buildup of plastic waste. About 100 local jurisdictions in California already have adopted similar bans.”

The law amounts to a tax because those consumers that don’t bring their own grocery bags to shop will be charged a minimum 10 cents per bag.  This could be as much as a 1% tax on a consumer’s shopping bill.

It’s a bit of the reverse on the old Robinhood adage-robbing the poor to pay the rich grocers and unions.

From U-T San Diego :

“San Diego Bishop George McKinney, of St. Stephen’s Cathedral Church Of God In Christ, called the ten cent fee a “massive redistribution of wealth” and a “heavenly deal for the big grocery chains,” arguing that it would generate hundreds of millions in profit at the expense of poor and working families.

To address that, the bills authors added a provision requiring that funds from paper bag sales be used only to buy the alterative bags, or to educate customers about the program.

Truitt, of Major Market, said that the elimination of plastic bags could generate savings for both grocers and shoppers.

Reusable mesh bags are available for purchase at Major Market in Escondido. A statewide ban will eliminate disposable plastic grocery bags next year.— Eduardo Contreras

“Bags cost us money,” he said. “They are an expense. If we don’t have to pay for bags, we will save money, and can hopefully pass that along to customers.”

The reality is that plastic bag use has been reduced by more than half in the state since 2006- voluntarily and without state coercion. Californians and local jurisdictions are choosing to be environmentally conscious by utilizing multiple use bags.

With a drought killing our farming industry and high taxes driving other industries out of California-plastic bags seem to be the least of our worries and certainly not worth the paper this bill is written on.