Support Draft Recommendations
The Sierra Club Loxahatchee Group and the State Group are in full support of a ban on Plastic Shopping Bags in your draft recommendations. We strongly support your original recommendations. Plastic Shopping Bags made of fossil fuel ingredients do not degrade but remain in the environment forever. They break down into smaller pieces that can be ingested by wild life causing detrimental side effects. Many animals choke to death on plastic bags, in particular sea birds and sea turtles. On the land plastic bags are unsightly. In the oceans they have accumulated into large islands of debris with other plastic items.
Plastic shopping bags have a short life and are mostly one use bags, some averaging less than a half hour of useful life. Very few are recycled because it is inconvenient for the public to return them after they are used. Because plastic bags are light weight the cost of recycling them is not cost effective. Stores would have to recycle bags on sight to make recycling cost effective or customers be charged a significant deposit and be required to return the bags to get a refund. Funds for bags not returned would go to pay for recycling those bags returned.
Other types of compostable bags can replace fossil fuel based bags. Plastic bags are not essential as many other vehicles can be used to carry groceries other than one use plastic bags. Further, the manufacture of alternatives such as permanent bags would provide greater benefit to our economy and create jobs. The manufacture of compostable bags would also create jobs equal to jobs in the current plastic bag industry and possibly a greater number of jobs. Fossil fuel manufactured bags are a waste of our precious fossil fuels. We waste over 100 million barrels of oil on the manufacture of plastic shopping bags.
Shopping bags litter our environment. Everywhere there is a store of any kind the bags are all over the environment. I pick up at least two or three bags in my neighborhood each day. On beach cleanup projects plastic is the number one type of litter on the beach.
Plastic shopping bags are difficult to recycle and most are thrown away. Most people take more bags than they need. When bags degrade they produce toxic byproducts. Your report documented all of this.
It is unlikely that the majority of citizens will recycle plastic bags unless a deposit is placed upon them. Bags that are dirty or wet tend to not be recycled or can not be recycled. The industry that produces bags would rather manufacture new bags than recycle old ones. The fossil fuel plastic bag industry has no concern for the environment or the future of our planet.
Plastic shopping bags are not essential to the public. Many stores such as COSCO do not provide bags and still have many shoppers. The public can be educated to not take one use plastic bags.
There are better uses for our economy than producing a product with so many negative side effects. The public should either be given a credit for bringing their own bags or be penalized for requesting a one use shopping bag. In particular small purchases should not be given a bag such a can of soda or a pack of cigarettes. Ultimately, as you recommended in your draft plastic bags made of fossil fuels should be banned.
Reusable shopping bags work better than thin plastic one use bags. Boxes may also be used to transport groceries.