Plastic and paper bags hide costs as well as groceries
The city has since imposed a fee on single use paaer and plastic bags. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
By Noemi de la Puente
The average consumer uses 500 bags a year, about 80 percent plastic and 20 percent paper. Plastic bags cost retailers like grocery stores 2 cents to 5 cents each, and paper ones cost 5 cents to 23 cents. I p replica watches uk aying for them: The cost is hidden in the cost of the items I buy. I figure I spend $13 to $43 per year on bags I think I am getting for free.
Let follow the money. Stores are stuck in the middle. They typically pay $1,000 to $6,000 a month on bags alone. They do this because they think I will stop shopping there if I don get bags. Retail stores feel compelled to keep on buying and distributing the bags and hiding the cost. This money the grocery stores spend goes mostly to plastic bag manufacturers who make tens of millions of dollars on the bags.
Poor grocery stores. They have to pay for all that. Wait a minute poor us! The stores pass those costs along to you and me.
So, even though I bring my reusable bags to the store, I still pay the hidden costs for other people bag use, because stores won charge individuals for bags.
Can we ? Couldn retailers declare their independenc replica watches uk e, lower their overhead and side with the consumer? How about charging only the people who use the bags, and leaving the rest of us to our big reusable bags so we can save money (and carry more stuff, to boot)? Would it help if we as consumers take a pledge that we will still shop at our local stores?
There is more to this story and the trail of money out of my pocket. Here in the Garden State all 8.8 million of us use about 4.4 billion, yes billion, bags a year, not counting the bread bags, produce bags, newspaper bags, etc., that we also use. Most of the bags end up in landfills where we taxpayers foot the bill to dispose of tons of them.
In Lawrence Township, Mercer County, where I live, we pay $104 a ton to dispose of our garbage. So, my township could save a lot of money if we generated less trash.
There are solutions. San Jose, Calif., passed a law making every bag cost 10 cents. People in San Jose stopped using bags by about 90 percent, and the city reported an 89 percent drop in the amount of bag litter in its storm drains.
San Jose estimates it is saving $1 million a year by not having to repair municipal recycling equipment that previously got jammed with plastic bags. What more, the city saved landfill and transfer station bag litter control costs estimated at $318,000 a year.
On the other hand, San Francisco tried recycling its plastic bags for a while, then learned it cost taxpayers about 17 cents per bag for their marginal recycling program. So the recycling option isn so thrifty as one would hope. Fee revenue there is dedicated to a good purpose: cleaning up the Anacostia River, a body of water which flows through some of the poorest neighborhoods in the area.
What galls me more is that almost half of the plastic film (including plastic bags) recovered in the United States was shipped overseas for processing. What a waste of time an replica watches uk d resources. I don want to pay for that. I rather just bring my own bag in the first place.
Plastic bags are notorious for ending up in waterways that lead to our oceans. Who wants to see plastic bags instead of dolphins off our shores? North Carolina Outer Banks area passed a plastic bag ban, because officials felt that plastic bag litter was affecting tourism. Why jeopardize the Jersey Shore and its $19 billion tourism industry with plastic bag litter?
There is a solution in sight. Senate Bill 812 and Assembly replica watches uk Bill 3787 would put a 5 cent fee on all paper and plastic shopping bags. Four cents would go to the state Department of Environmental Protection to clean up Barnegat Bay, and 1 cent would remain with the merchant. And if you like me, the whole 5 cents would remain in your pocket because you bring your own bag.
I urge people to support these bills. Tell elected officials not to listen to the deep pocketed plastic bag lobby. We need solutions to the problem of plastics proliferation, and this one deserves action.