The Crusade Against Plastic Bags


November 30, 2012

by by Kenneth P. Green and Elizabeth DeMeo

KEY POINTS

  • An ever-growing number of municipalities are instituting bans on plastic grocery bags in the name of environmental protection;

  • Studies are mixed regarding whether or not such bans offer significant environmental benefits, but claims of rampant environmental harms are suspect;

  • Proponents of bag-bans omit the most important consideration, which is what replaces the plastic bags? Other bags (including cloth) have even worse environmental impact profiles, and pose additional risks of cross-contaminating food and spreading dangerous pathogens among those who share the bags.

  • Increasingly, studies suggest that as with other poorly-thought out environmental intervention; banning plastic grocery bags reduces some harms, while increasing others.

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