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Paper, Plastic or Unintended Consequences?

Monday, June 24, 2013

The debate about Eugene’s plastic bag ban is getting heated.

The City Council’s champion of the bag ban [Alan Zelenka] on Monday said he will propose that the council exempt people who receive food stamps from paying the 5-cent charge for paper bags in the city’s recently enacted prohibition on thin, single-use plastic retail bags. Southeast Councilor Alan Zelenka said he will propose the exemption as a way to make the ban less of a burden on low-­income people.  – Eugene Register Guard, June 11, 2013

Lane Solutions replies:

We believe that this sort of constant fine tuning is the inevitable result of governments’ attempts to force changes in citizens’ behavior. First the Eugene City Council bans plastic bags in the interest of the environment. Their goal? Encourage use of reusable bags. One result has been increased use of paper bags. Paper or plastic – which uses more total energy? According to a study cited by UO chemistry Prof. David Tyler this March, it’s paper. Which leaves more solid waste? That’s right – paper! Now comes the unintended consequence of poor people struggling to pay $.05 for each grocery bag. Next follows a lengthy debate on exempting the bag charge for the poor. Inevitably, there will be conflicts of interest with the Council picking winners and losers. Which products will qualify for the exemption? Groceries? Soft drinks? “Essential” hardware? Producers and retailers will lobby the Council to exempt their products from the bag charge. The result? More unintended consequences, more debates and more regulations.

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One response to “Paper, Plastic or Unintended Consequences?”

  1. Jeff says:

    Unintended consequences always exist but almost always are not planned for. The Albertsons store that is on my way home is a couple times a week stop for me, always just a few items. I was surprised to find that shortly after the bag ban was implemented they no longer had the small plastic basket that I use instead of a grocery cart. Seems that people were using them to transport their items to their vehicles and then driving off, yes stealing them from the store to the point where they don’t have them anymore. The cost of doing business in Eugene has increased for this store, especially if they decide to replace the baskets which I hope they do. Now every time I am in Springfield the thought goes through my mind “do I need anything at the store”. I am becoming familiar with where things are located in the Q Street Fred Meyer. Ii is not worth making a special trip but hey if I am there already why not skip the Eugene hassle?
    It would be interesting to find out if this has happened at other Eugene stores.

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