Florida Could Ban Plastic, Paper Bags

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A proposed ban in Florida is calling for all disposable paper and plastic bags to be permanently phased out over the next five years, encouraging to use of reusable bags.

While Miami news station WPLG reports that this move could benefit the environment as Floridians use an estimated 5 billion disposable bags per year, this legislation could cost residents extra cash as well.

Photo: Amanda Wills, Earth911.com

According to the EPA, about 12 percent of plastic bags and wraps were recycled in 2007. Photo: Amanda Wills, Earth911.com

Earlier this month, the Department of Environmental Protection released its “Retail Bags Report” draft. According to the report, the phase-out would start with public education, graduated fees, followed by a total ban on the bags at all retail stores.

“The greatest concern I have, as to how it would relate to that, would be how it would impact our environment,” says Gov. Charlie Crist as reported by WPLG. “It’s hard to grow up in Florida and not care about our beauty.”

Other cities, including Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles have debated both plastic bag bans and taxes, but Florida would be the first state to outlaw both disposable materials.

According to the American Chemistry Council, about 89 billion plastic bags, sacks and wraps are used each year in the U.S. while Americans use an estimated 10 billion paper bags.

During production, plastic bags generate 50 percent less greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, require 70 percent less energy and produce 80 percent less waste than their paper alternatives. However, because of their light weight, many curbside recycling programs do not accept plastic bags or film. And while brown paper bags are recyclable, only 10 to 15 percent are returned for recycling.

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  1. If the stores no longer have to absorb the cost of the bags will the prices I pay for my groceries go down. I would bet my house that it won’t. Just another source of income for Publix, Walmart or whomever. Yeah environment, when am I going to see the cost savings?

  2. Let’s hope they supply reusable bags made in the U.S., otherwise billions of bags being shipped to L.A. then trucked to Florida is going to cancel out half of the environmental benefits.

  3. I think that people can make their own reusable bags with old clothes they don’t want any more and by learning a little bit of sewing. It can actually be pretty fun.

    Also, though not real cheap, rawganique.com sells 100% organic hemp and organic cotton reusable bags that are made in USA and Canada.

    To those worried about money vs. helping the environment: When things get horrible, when our air becomes dangerous to breathe, when we are walking on trash, when our food is poisoned by chemicals, when we run out of drinkable water, and at the same time are flooded because of global warming… look your children, or any child or teenager, in the eyes. We you be able to tell them you didn’t do all you could to help stop this because you wanted to save money?

  4. I’m sorry, the bags at rawganique.com are made in europe. I knew I should have made sure, but I could have sworn everythning there was made in USA or Canada!

    They’re still nice… and you can always make your own!

  5. I usually use the food store cloth bags instead of plastic or paper. However there is a food store that uses a stronger plastic bag and it is a #2 plastic the store is Wegmans.

  6. this may not be such a bad idea. Alot of the plastic floating in the ocean is ohhh lets see, bags. I think everyone should quit using plastic bags and get re-usables. I converted and the outcome has been awesome. for starters, I can fit more in these bags. Less trips from the trunk to the house. No more groceries falling through the bags. And this is really helping the enviornment little by little. Walmart will take any plastic grocery bags back to be recycled if your curbside service won’t pick it up, Also try your nearest drive-through recycling center.

  7. Looks like the consciousness of the planet is changing just in time to save it. I’ve noticed there has been a sea change just in the last year or two. Sometimes, what we see as a bad thing, like higher gas prices, is only pushing us in the way we should go. With a little adjustment, we can turn this thing around. An example of the way all things environmental is catching on: this year there was a world wide shortage of red worms because suddenly everybody was interested in vermi-composting. There may be hope for us after all.

  8. To those worried about the dog poop dilemma… Dog poop can be picked up with a dog poop scoop. They have some with long handles so that you don’t even have to bend over. It looks like a couple of claws on a long stick. When you get home, rinse it off with the water hose and leave it somewhere outside to air out (somewhere not visible on the side of the house by the trash cans, for example).

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