MMA Articles

Big Oil Fights Plastic Bag Bans

Across the country, from big cities like San Francisco to small towns like Westport, CT there is a movement to eliminate free plastic bags due to environmental issues. This movement is not sitting well with Big Oil, which is fighting every effort that could disrupt this $ 4 billion industry.

Seattle passed a tax on 20-cent plastic bags, despite media efforts by the Plastic Bag Affiliates (PBA), which is a group of bag manufacturers, such as Exxon-Mobil and Dow Chemical. Since then PBA’s concentrated campaign has provided the necessary signatures to cast a ballot in the tax in the future, giving the oil companies one more shot to keep their plastic bag business in Seattle.

In California the PBA ran ads that tried to scare people into thinking they would have to pay $ 400 a year because of the tax, and completely ignored the fact that the tax was to encourage people to take bags giving us a reusable that would cost the taxpayer nothing then.

In 2002, Ireland imposed a similar tax and saw an immediate 90% drop in the use of plastic bags. Ireland credits this reduction for saving 400,000 barrels of oil a year. China estimates it will save 34 million barrels of oil now that it has banned free plastic bags.

The PBA ads also say that plastic bags are completely recyclable, which is true. However the advertisements neglect to state that most municipalities of America do not accept plastic bags for recycling because they can stick to the machinery. Less than 2% of plastic bags are recycled, according to the EPA. It also costs more to recycle plastic bags than to use virgin resin to make new bags, so recycling the bags is not cost-effective, despite what the oil companies would believe us.

Fearing the loss of billions in sales Big Oil is coming out swinging. To get a Seattle tax referendum, one estimate says they paid about $ 8 per sign in advertising costs. With California’s efforts to prevent a ban or tax, the airways were filled Gas, Food Now Here! radio ads criticizing potential tax on plastic bags. The announcements said the tax would be very disastrous for low-income families, the elderly and anyone living on a fixed income. Again, PBA does not mention that the tax that these people would incur would be zero if they brought in their own bags, which is the main purpose of the proposal.

In Annapolis, where a ban was being considered, Donna Dempsey, spokeswoman for the plastic bag industry, noted that paper bags take up seven times more space than plastic bags, so it cost more to truck them to the store and your stores stock them. Once again, she did not mention reusable bags that would cost the stores nothing and would not take up any storage space.

Americans are lagging far behind the rest of the world in plastic bag reduction programs, especially on the money, power and influence of the big oil companies that sponsor Plastic Bag Affiliates campaigns to stop taxes and bans on plastic bags.

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