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Discussion: Plastic bags

in: Swampfox; Swampfox > 2020-01-23

Jan 25, 2020 5:48 PM # 
It appears the Swedish Government also reads your AP log!
Just a few days ago it was announced that there will be a tax on the plastic bags you get (=buy) in a store. Three SEK (~30 cents) per bag that will be added as a tax for store owners when they buy them, but that´s only a small step away from charging the customers that same amount.
Reactions from the public (and store owners) have been mixed since some look at it just as a way to try to get more money for the Swedish National Budget, while others see the possible benefit for the environment.
Jan 26, 2020 3:20 PM # 
Mylar balloons, now those should be banned. I would guess those releasing them for the kiddos have no clue where they end up.
Jan 26, 2020 5:06 PM # 
Most of the released ones are probably released accidentally. Intentionally released ones are usually latex.
Jan 27, 2020 4:48 PM # 
I thought a little bit more about the plastic bag issue while I was skiing yesterday. A lot of what shapes my thinking comes from what I've seen in Scandinavia (mainly Sweden) and the UK

My guess is that even a token charge for a plastic bag--like a penny--would be enough to make some appreciable distance. Not because of the cost, because it's hard to believe anyone who needed a bag at checkout would stop from getting one if it only cost a penny. But I think even a penny could have a signalling effect that would lead to some people using fewer bags than they would have before. In some way it could relay the message that "these things aren't free, they have some cost."

At some higher cost of a dime to a quarter or so--comparable to what you might see in parts of Europe--it seems clear enough that plastic bag usage would go way down. People would still take and buy the bags they needed, but for sure more people would bring their own bags with them when they shopped. I know I would.

As for an outright ban, to me that goes too far, and smacks of "purity" type thinking. Plastic bags are useful, and they can be used and disposed of properly and responsibly in a way that has just as little effect on the environment as just about anything else we use on a daily basis and take for granted.

At least around here, I would guess only a very tiny fraction of plastic bags end up where they shouldn't (out in the landscape). And they only make up a tiny fraction of the trash I see along roads and out in the forest and prairie. If there were no plastic bags at all around here, there would still be an awful lot of trash out there, and the difference would not be significant except for maybe visually, because plastic bags caught up on barbed wire fences do flap around and catch the eye.
Jan 27, 2020 5:13 PM # 
Should have added a note to thank bubo for the post above about this new initiative in Sweden. So thanks here!
Jan 29, 2020 5:35 PM # 
To clarify contents in the Swedish article above for those who don´t read Swedish: The ~30 cent tax on plastic bags is on top of what is already charged which is still quite a bit. I haven´t bought any plastic bags for a long time so I don´t really know the daily rate but it would be around 25 cents or more.

As Tori pointed out in another comment it´s a bit ironic that we still buy plastic bags for our household garbage so the amount of plastic coming out of our house is still considerable. At least this actually ends up in the garbage or recycling instead of on road sides.
Jan 29, 2020 6:32 PM # 
For us, with most "wet" waste going into a special food waste bin (Cambridge collects food waste, as did Oslo) I wonder if we couldn't just skip plastic garbage bags for most of our trash. Curbside collection is of bins or heavy-duty bags outside of bins, so it should be okay just to toss stuff directly into the outside bin, though I suspect on a windy day the sanitation workers would not be very happy with a bunch of unbagged trash flying out of one...
Jan 29, 2020 7:06 PM # 
Finally a chance to apply my experience as a trash collector!

Liquids are a pain. Some liquids are just annoying because they smell bad, but some are dangerous (caustic, slippery, poisonous). When you're loading or running a tipper, you can't tell what a liquid is. When you cycle the hopper, liquid containers can get squashed and spurt the liquid all over.

Anything sharp is a pain. Lots of stuff people throw away can be dangerous - boards with nails, mirrors with broken glass, etc.

Things that blow around in the wind or spread easily are a chore. If it spills while you're collecting, you end up running around collecting the stuff. Anything that requires you to run around and potentially expose yourself to traffic is not appreciated. Overloaded containers is a subset of things that can easily spread.

Unexpectedly heavy stuff is a chore. A couple of smaller containers beats one really heavy one. Carts that you can use tippers to load help a lot.

The worst thing I remember was a large can completely loaded with used kitty litter. It was very heavy and when tipped it created a disgusting cloud of little dust.

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