Grocery Stores Have Begun Their Effort to Kill Dallas' Proposed Plastic Bag Ban

Categories: Biz, City Hall

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@MarkW_KVUE
Be careful, Dallas. If the bag-ban debate gets too heated, Plastic Bag Man might show up here.
When City Council member Dwaine Caraway proposed a ban on single-use bags (paper and plastic) earlier this year, it seemed like another of the sweeping but ineffectual campaigns he fixes onto every so often. Sort of like the sagging-pants thing, except less entertaining. But then, in June, the measure sailed through committee en route to the full City Council. This time, unlike in 2008, it looks like a ban actually has a chance of passing.

That makes your local Kroger -- and Tom Thumb, and Walmart, and Target -- very nervous, which explains why representatives of the Texas Retailers Association spent a week camped out in front of two Dallas Kroger stores with a petition. It also explains why Kroger rep and TRA President Gary Huddleston was announcing at a press conference that they'd amassed more than 3,000 signatures that he'll be delivering to Mayor Mike Rawlings.

The thing is, retailers see a ban on single-use bags as a threat. Talking with Unfair Park this afternoon, Huddleston alluded to studies in Southern California showing bag bans decrease sales by 3 to 4 percent. People tend to buy less when their carrying capacity is limited to the reusable sacks they bring from home. Maybe some shoppers near the suburbs will migrate to stores outside Dallas. Bottom line, says Huddleston: "It will hurt our business."

Of course, having corporations whine about not making enough money is not a winning public relations strategy, which is why Huddleston prefers to focus on the cost that a bag ban will inflict on consumers, who will have to buy the reusable bags, and the employees of Hilex Poly, which operates three plastic-bag manufacturing plants in the Dallas area. Pass a bag ban, Huddleston says, and some of the company's several hundred local employees will be out of work.

And then there's the petition, which has six times as many signatures as the one launched online by Environment Texas.

"What we heard from customers is that they reuse plastic bags for picking up dog waste, wet bathing suits, taking their lunch to work," he said. "If those plastic bags go away then they have to go and buy them."

None of those arguments hold up very well if you believe that they cause serious harm to the environment. Huddleston doesn't.

"Litter is an issue, certainly. We don't want to contribute to the litter, but plastic bags are less than half of 1 percent [of the litter] in the street and in the waterways."

Better and more effective to focus on recycling the bags. There could be public awareness campaigns. The city could start accepting them in its blue recycling bins. They're really versatile material when you get creative. They can be turned back into more bags, sure, but Huddleston points out that they can also be transformed into things like patio decking and lawn furniture.

And be honest: Does anyone want to live in a world without lawn furniture?

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87 comments
John1073
John1073

I had to explain to the cashier at Target why the gallon of milk does not need to go in a plastic bag. The plastic bag lobby has really got people brainwashed good. And hey guess what. No bags at ALDI and people flock there like it's the second coming of Christ.

lbossange
lbossange

God forbid people BUY LESS. This might be a good thing. Look around you. 

If the petroleum companies were getting extra money for every bag, this law would pass in a heartbeat here in Texas because they'd call it something else and put it into law before citizens knew any better, calling it some sort of freedom. In fact, you're probably already paying for it. 

huminaboz
huminaboz

Pollution: Just have fun with it! Make a game out of it!

roo_ster
roo_ster

The problem is not plastic grocery bags, the problem is black, white, and brown trash.  IOW, "people littering." 

Back in the 1950s-1970, more less affluent Americans could afford autos and travel than before WWII.  They took their trashy urban habits with them to the Grand Canyon and trashed the place.  The upper middle classes and affluent classes took it upon themselves to run a decades-long campaign to teach your average American not to litter.  It was more or less successful.  LOTS less litter, especially in the garden spots.  Probably the most successful gov't and civic behavior transformations ever in America's history.  (Urban black trash blight areas and rural white trash areas still were trashy, but who wants to visit those dunghills, anyway?)

Fast-forward to 2013 and we have tens of millions more folks in the country who are from elsewhere, mostly south of the border.  They never got the "don't be a litter bug" message hammered into them for generations and they treat White Rock Lake like they treat their cess pit village back in Oaxaca.  Mosey on over to the dock where folks feed the ducks in numbers.  Look at the proportion of aztec-americans and then look at the cavalier way they treat their grocery and bread bags.  THAT's your problem, folks.  Trash.  Litter bugs.

The problem is that to actually get at the root cause, we would have to first state the problem honestly and without PC blinders.  Instead, the left and liberals want to outlaw some object.  Guns, plastic grocery bags, whatever.  Always going after the material symptom and not the human cause of the problem.  Facing the problem would be to admit that these millions may not be such a great fit culturally and behaviorally, for America.

We need a spanish-language media blitz on the scale we had in the 1950-1980 era for those that stay, and vigorous efforts to send home those who are here illegally.  Heavy-handed moralistic PSAs that hammer home what clods they are for littering.  Kinda like this bit of 1970s Americana:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7OHG7tHrNM




J_A_
J_A_

Target definitely has the best plastic bags. My bathroom trash cans will miss them.

What about doggie poop mini plastic bags? Those are free and they're everywhere!

The_triplefake_Brandon_Eley
The_triplefake_Brandon_Eley

Most of those plastic bags are perfect for cleaning cold ash out of my charcoal grill.  Depending on what I cook, each bag can hold about a week's worth of ash.  The ash catcher fits perfectly inside the bag making cleanup neat and simple.    

Linda Moore
Linda Moore

Before plastic bags, there were paper sacks. That is what grocery stores should provide, unless a customer has their own reusable bags. These plastic bags should be banned. They end up on our streets, in our creeks and rivers, threaten wildlife and on top of everything these plastic bags can NOT be recycled. Paper bags can be recycled. I support banning the plastic bags.

ChrisYu
ChrisYu

plastic bags have a lot of facebook fans.

Phil Goddard
Phil Goddard

In the UK, they introduced a 7c tax on grocery bags and consumption decreased by 90 per cent. People were quite happy to stop using them. And when I was in Tunisia, it's no exaggeration to say that the entire country was covered in plastic bags and empty mineral water bottles.

Blake Wilson
Blake Wilson

..except in neighborhoods where people don't budget to buy recycled bags.

Blake Wilson
Blake Wilson

I wonder how your sarcasm will play at the nearest low income neighborhood grocery store? Wouldn't you think that those who are trying to make their dollar stretch won't give a shit about your environmentalist views when they're told to pony up some more money for recycled bags?

Blake Wilson
Blake Wilson

"...just remember your recycled bags people, duh".... clearly, this ordinance will have an adverse effect in neighborhoods where there currently have plastic bags littering the area.

Charles Collier
Charles Collier

I think it's great. Spent most of July in Austin and it was t an issue.

Steve Hunter
Steve Hunter

When will these environmentalists learn that plastic is good for nature. They look great floating down rivers too. I'm with the billionaire corporations here. More bags, less nature I say.

Tim Evans
Tim Evans

Of course. It's just annoying because I'll have to pay for it now because some people are irresponsible as shit.

Azim Miza
Azim Miza

Been doing it for a long while already. Used to confuse the staff at the store in the beginning. Now they get it & smile.

Jenevieve DeFer
Jenevieve DeFer

No plastic bags is a great law. What I object to is that many communities doing the bag ban are making people buy Paper Bags, instead of allowing the Retailer decide whether they want to have free paper bags for their customers. Also the reusable bags are causing a huge increase in Food bourne illnesses among Grocery Store workers. Most customers don't wash their bags.

Rebeca Perez
Rebeca Perez

Here in Austin, they STILL sell the tiny, small dog waste baggies. Those will not go away! They are wrong with that part.

pak152
pak152

In 2011, the United Kingdom’s Environment Agency released a study that evaluated nine categories of environmental impacts caused by different types of supermarket bags. The study found that paper bags have a worse effect on the environment than plastic bags in all nine impact categories, which include global warming potential, abiotic depletion, acidification, eutrophication, human toxicity, fresh water aquatic ecotoxicity, marine aquatic ecotoxicity, terrestrial ecotoxicity, and photochemical oxidation.

Furthermore, the study found that the average supermarket shopper would have to reuse the same cotton tote from 94 up to 1,899 times before it had less environmental impact than the disposable plastic bags needed to carry the same amount of groceries.

 http://www.justfactsdaily.com/bans-on-plastic-bags-harm-the-environment

Rebeca Perez
Rebeca Perez

You can still throw in your mesh/tote bags in with your laundry -- they are small. You won't be using an entire washing load JUST for bags. Let's be real. You are exagerrating. Austin was first stunned by this change & has now adjusted. They still provide paper bags to consumers. The mall still has some 'mini' plastic baggies (that you can use for your trash bins). I moved from Dallas to Austin. I LOVE this no plastic bags change. It's for the best!

Tim Evans
Tim Evans

Okay I'm being honest now. I keep mine and use them for multiple things. Do you have some sitting around that you saved for various things?

Exclusive New You
Exclusive New You

I say go for it DALLAS... What better way to perhaps start the clean up in Dallas. It would help on so many different levels and save consumers money as well. Lets live clean and healthy and embrace our environment. YEA!!!!

casiepierce
casiepierce

"People tend to buy less when their carrying capacity is limited to the reusable sacks they bring from home."

Huh? People buy what they NEED. If I've got one bag and 25 things on my list, then I'll be back tomorrow. Or the next day, or whenever it is that I run out of whatever I use on a daily basis. I don't know anyone who plans their grocery shopping based on bag capacity. This argument is just plain silly. 

Also, why can't these other stores take a look at Aldi and then compare notes?

Diana Loomis
Diana Loomis

Still uses less energy than making more plastic bags that, let's be honest, get thrown away.

Mark Edington
Mark Edington

I don't understand why grocery stores would be so against this. I have lived in Portland, OR for 9 years now, having grown up in Dallas, and everyone happily obliged to the ban. A lot of stores had already stopped using plastic bags years before a ban was even discussed. It just makes sense. If they were banned everywhere, it would make a huge difference, and no one would have to travel further to shop at stores with plastic bags. And that doesn't even make sense. People driving further using more gas just to get plastic bags? at over $4 a gallon? I don't think so.

Lucas Puryear
Lucas Puryear

Go to a job fair, companies are practically giving bags away everywhere.

Brad W. Foster
Brad W. Foster

Is the ban on plastic bags, or -all- bags? Because I recall all the stores pre-plastic had a very nice selection of various sizes of brown paper sacks available for customers for as many groceries as they cared to put in them. And we re-used those paper bags just like we reuse the plastic ones-- but they didn't hang around forever when finally worn out and thrown away. So, why all this talk as if the -only- options are "plastic" or "bring your own"? Did I miss something?

mrosemoran
mrosemoran

I saw one of the people collecting petitions. She made a face when I held up my reusable totes and reusable produce bags. 

Sorry, we don't have a single plastic bag in the house. We have lived just fine without them.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@Jenevieve DeFer  "Also the reusable bags are causing a huge increase in Food bourne illnesses among Grocery Store workers."

--source?

doublecheese
doublecheese

@Jenevieve DeFer Maybe grocery store workers need to do us all a favor and wash their hands every once in a while...

PlanZero
PlanZero

@pak152 Yeah, but banning plastic bags makes people feel good, so shut up with your dumb facts.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@pak152

in the notes of the study:

  "The manufacturing of the bags is normally the most significant stage of the life cycle, due to both the material and energy requirements. The impact of the energy used is often exacerbated by their manufacture in countries where the electricity is produced from coal-fired power stations."

that would be us. the fact that our plastic bag production is powered by coal fired electricity makes the British study irrelevant.

second, use of 94 times? 3-4 months? easy. after that it is accretive to the positive environmental impact.

dmtrousd
dmtrousd

But whether you devote an entire wash cycle to reusable bags or just add it to clothes it ends up being the same total "load" on the washer. If you're using the bags to carry meat or unwashed produce, then that's an awful lot of washing.

PlanZero
PlanZero

@casiepierce I've only been to an Aldi's once and I was struck by how ubiquitous plastic is in that store. Not just prepackaged foods but even the "fresh" heavily waxed produce is sealed in plastic. I think people are being a little myopic about this plastic bag ban in term of trying to reduce plastic waste.

pak152
pak152

@Brad W. Foster right now grocery stores provide only one size of paper bag.

dmtrousd
dmtrousd

One aspect that gets overlooked is bacterial contamination. I prefer the plastic/paper over reusable bags for that reason. If I buy a package of chicken I generally do the self checkout and put it in its own plastic bag. I would prefer not to place it in a cloth bag, which will absorb liquid from the package and subsequently contaminate any items placed after it.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@pak152 

Sprouts, Whole Foods, Tom Thumb, Central Market....all offer multiple sizes of paper bags at the check out.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@pak152 

CM? hey have small paper bags in the produce section, medium and large at check out.

just look around next time.

thumb has multiple sizes at check out.

pak152
pak152

@mavdog and besides the handles on the paper bags are weak. one has to ask for double bagging because they are so weak

pak152
pak152

@mavdog @pak152 I shop regularly at TT and CM and have only seen one size of paper bag provided

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