Roper: Let the free market solve the plastic bag ‘crisis’

By Rob Roper

The Burlington Free Press had an excellent article on the city’s upcoming ballot question regarding the banning of plastic grocery bags. This has been a trendy policy across the country in many “progressive” municipalities. But, as the article points out, the actual consequences of banning the convenient little things isn’t what its banners intended.

As we have pointed out before, “single use” plastic grocery bags are really multi-use, finding second lives as liners for garbage cans, for picking up pet waste, transporting dirty gym clothes, etc. Banning them requires shoppers not only to find replacements at the checkout counter that are more often than not less environmentally friendly, such as paper, but also require the purchase of heavier plastic options for trashcan liners, pet waste, etc. This is neither economically nor environmentally sound.

Still, plastic bags are a litter issue. How do we solve it? Here’s where the free market comes into play. The Free Press notes that these plastic bags can be and are being recycled. Profitably.

The example they cite is the Trex corporation, which uses the recycled bags to make high quality decking, fencing and outdoor furniture. This is the free market at work. Entrepreneurs figured out a profitable way to turn a waste product into a valuable resource, meeting a market demand for durable outdoor building materials while at the same time solving, or at least helping to solve, an environmental problem.

This costs taxpayers nothing, and, in fact, increases sales tax revenues when customers purchase Trex products. Everybody wins.

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Olybrius

One thought on “Roper: Let the free market solve the plastic bag ‘crisis’

  1. ” plastic grocery bags are really multi-use”

    They truly are multi purpose and when they get hole in them or get too many just recycle at your local Hannifords.
    The Kinneys bags are my favorite for carrying tools to the boat or to work, or just for storing items. The rush to ban plastic straws and other plastic conveniences because China and India throw them in the ocean is pretty lame. But we have come to expect being forced to comply because of the “Feelz good”. I guess if
    any want’s to continue using them they better stock up ’cause eventually the leftards always gets the “Feelz” laws enacted.

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