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March 24, 2019

The Impossibility Of Repealing The Law Of Unintended Consequences

Here are some interesting data on the actual consequences of plastic bans. The author suggests some ridiculous remedies (fees instead of bans), but at least she is working from actual facts, instead of touchy-feely "IT'S FOR THE CHILDREN AND THE WHALES!" emotive crap.


Plastic bag bans can backfire if consumers just use other plastics instead

Governments are increasingly banning the use of plastic products, such as carryout bags, straws, utensils and microbeads. The goal is to reduce the amount of plastic going into landfills and waterways. And the logic is that banning something should make it less abundant.

However, this logic falls short if people actually reuse those items instead of buying new ones. For example, so-called "single-use" plastic carryout bags can have a multitude of unseen second lives - as trash bin liners, dog poop bags and storage receptacles.

A U.K. government study calculated that a shopper would need to reuse a cotton carryout bag 131 times to reduce its global warming potential - its expected total contribution to climate change - below that of plastic carryout bags used once to carry newly purchased goods. To have less impact on the climate than plastic carryout bags also reused as trash bags, consumers would need to use the cotton bag 327 times.

I have a wild idea! Let the free market decide how to deal with the bag issue, and restrict government to simply enforcing the laws against littering.


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posted by CBD at 12:15 PM

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