July 25 2013

Plastic Bag Ban Leads to Higher Rates of Theft

Julie Gunlock

Here at IWF, we ladies like to point out the consequences of do-gooder regulatory policies. You know, the one's meant to protect you...because you're too dumb and weak to protect yourself.

We've done that with the Mind the Store campaign--pointing out the dangers of removing chemicals from products (because they keep products safer, fresher, and in the case of flame-retardants, harder to light on fire).

We've done it Genetically Modified food (commonly called GMOs)--pointing out that efforts to ban them (as they largely do in Europe, although the UK recently signaled they might loosen restrictions on GM food) will result in the loss of a promising technology in the agriculture sector--technology which will help to feed this planet's increasing population.

We've pointed out the consequences of food nannying--explaining that the First Lady's school lunch expansion did nothing more than lead to massive food waste as well as billions in wasted tax dollars. We tried to warn people that Mayor Bloomberg's paternalist drink ban was going to be a jobs killer (luckily a smart New York judge also saw it as capricious and difficult to enforce).

And now, another excellent example of the dangers of government meddling has emerged. This one focuses on environmentalist’s efforts to ban grocery store plastic bags. The Daily Caller reports

Thanks to laws in several major cities banning the use of plastic carryout bags in retail stores, there has been a spike in shoplifting incidents over the past couple years, a trend that business owners, law enforcement officials and customers have duly noted.

In 2011, Washington D.C. enforced a reusable bag tax and officials became steadily more suspicious of shoppers’ activities.

Of course, shoplifting isn't the only problem. In February, Bloomberg columnist Ramesh Ponnuru's offered a gag-inducing warning about reusable shopping bags

Most alarmingly, the industry has highlighted news reports linking reusable shopping bags to the spread of disease. Like this one, from the Los Angeles Times last May: “A reusable grocery bag left in a hotel bathroom caused an outbreak of norovirus-induced diarrhea and nausea that struck nine of 13 members of a girls’ soccer team in October, Oregon researchers reported Wednesday.” The norovirus may not have political clout, but evidently it, too, is rooting against plastic bags.

Warning of disease may seem like an over-the-top scare tactic, but research suggests there’s more than anecdote behind this industry talking point. In a 2011 study, four researchers examined reusable bags in California and Arizona and found that 51 percent of them contained coliform bacteria. The problem appears to be the habits of the reusers. Seventy-five percent said they keep meat and vegetables in the same bag. When bags were stored in hot car trunks for two hours, the bacteria grew tenfold.

That study also found, happily, that washing the bags eliminated 99.9 percent of the bacteria. It undercut even that good news, though, by finding that 97 percent of people reported that they never wash their bags. 

Theft and stomach aches. Yup...that sounds like liberal nanny-state policies to me. 

Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus