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  #61  
Old Posted Jun 4, 2012, 9:10 PM
213 213 is offline
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^ This isn't Carmel or Santa Barbara, and the City of Los Angeles doesn't enact boutique regulations to indulge whatever minority percentage of its residents can be characterized as "yuppie."

Fact is, the bags are a problem. They don't biodegrade, they have no practicable redemption value, and too many of the countless numbers issued daily wind up in the environment.

All consumers will be touched by the law in one respect or another, and to the extent convenience is impaired they'll adapt their routines accordingly.
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  #62  
Old Posted Jun 4, 2012, 10:57 PM
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KevinFromTexas KevinFromTexas is offline
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Originally Posted by 213 View Post
The bags are recyclable, but many consumers don't/won't or are litterers -- even after a generation of public awareness efforts.
They may be recyclable, but they can't be recycled just by throwing them into your recycling bin with everything else. The reason is they clog up the sorting machines. Austin, Texas is throwing away less garbage now than we did 20 years ago when we were half the size we are now, but still, plastic bags can't just be thrown in with everything else because of the clogging problem. I bag them up and take them back to the grocery store, but not everyone cares to do that, so they end up in the trash, trees and waterways.
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  #63  
Old Posted Jun 5, 2012, 1:32 PM
Private Dick Private Dick is offline
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Originally Posted by pesto View Post
Not worth discussing this any more, but just some advice. If you want to get seriously involved in this area you have to take a basic economics class. Broadly speaking, you will find that the cost of production serves as a very handy stand-in for what our knowledge of the laws of physics, chemistry, etc., allow us to do. Of course if we are able to refine gasoline for $.05 a gallon, then the balance shifts.

I assume that the uncompensated externalities in producing plastic bags and gasoline are roughly equivalent.
I agree that it's not worth belaboring, since I think we are making different arguments, really... and I don't want to make any more snide comments as I sometimes do. I'm fully aware of the economics involved and have certainly taken the requisite economics classes, considering my educational background is intrinsically tied to natural resource economics -- as an undergrad, through employment, and from a more recent MBA. So, I know that I can at least grasp the concepts. But I wasn't talking economics. That's the next step.

There is no doubt that real world costs play a major factor (if not the greatest factor) in what we are actually able to do... in the case of plastic bags or anything. And I don't disagree with you for a second about that. What you posted initially I completely agree with... in the context of your argument.

But the energy equivalence between driving a car 1 km and the petroleum/natural gas-based energy represented by about 9 plastic bags is simply that... the inherent energy contained in both uses. It is informative to discover this after looking at the life cycle of a plastic bag -- that each HDPE bag (the typical grocery bag) represents consumed energy equal to about 14ml of crude oil -- and to to understand the incredible energy waste that is occurring. Now, with this info, we can apply the real world economic costs and functions (which you bring up) to figure out what steps realistically can/cannot be taken to control the waste.
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  #64  
Old Posted Jun 5, 2012, 1:53 PM
Private Dick Private Dick is offline
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Originally Posted by Ragnar View Post
Serious question: Can you recycle plastic grocery bags?

Besides using them to pick up our dog's crap (which we do), if we get too many of the plastic bags in our "dog crap pick-up bag container" under the sink, I'll throw the extras into the recycle bin, assuming they could be recycled like other pieces of plastic (i.e. plastic bottles, etc.).

If they can be recycled, why not educate people to put them in the recycle bins that L.A. (and virtually all other Southern California cities) have?
HDPE and LDPE bags (typical grocery and store bags) can be recycled very easily in terms of their content, but it just is not cost-effective enough to be realistic -- recycling processing costs exceed what the raw materials can be sold for. That's why the vast majority of them wind up in landfills anyway. All plastic packaging constitutes a significant contributor to the "growth of waste" -- which is a very expensive problem that we are all paying for more than we probably realize. And paper bags are really no better.
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  #65  
Old Posted Jun 5, 2012, 5:25 PM
pesto pesto is offline
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Originally Posted by Private Dick View Post
I agree that it's not worth belaboring, since I think we are making different arguments, really... and I don't want to make any more snide comments as I sometimes do. I'm fully aware of the economics involved and have certainly taken the requisite economics classes, considering my educational background is intrinsically tied to natural resource economics -- as an undergrad, through employment, and from a more recent MBA. So, I know that I can at least grasp the concepts. But I wasn't talking economics. That's the next step.

There is no doubt that real world costs play a major factor (if not the greatest factor) in what we are actually able to do... in the case of plastic bags or anything. And I don't disagree with you for a second about that. What you posted initially I completely agree with... in the context of your argument.

But the energy equivalence between driving a car 1 km and the petroleum/natural gas-based energy represented by about 9 plastic bags is simply that... the inherent energy contained in both uses. It is informative to discover this after looking at the life cycle of a plastic bag -- that each HDPE bag (the typical grocery bag) represents consumed energy equal to about 14ml of crude oil -- and to to understand the incredible energy waste that is occurring. Now, with this info, we can apply the real world economic costs and functions (which you bring up) to figure out what steps realistically can/cannot be taken to control the waste.
"Inherent energy" is a term without meaning; I hope you are not making a Peak Oil kind of analysis. At best it's a function of what we understand or theorize about molecular (and nuclear) structure; more often it's an application of bad science to unknowable facts (and for technical reasons these are permanently unknowable since facts in this context are creatures of the theory they are used in).

But the point here is that there is a way of keeping track of the energy technologically available and used in any transaction: it's called the "price" of the energy. And there is way of calculating the amount of the energy that goes into a plastic bag: it's called "the price of the energy that goes into making it", and for sure, it can't exceed the TOTAL cost of making it.

I have already done the math above, so that's about it. I should also note that taxes, cartels and regulations can mess up these prices, but not enough to make your comparison even close to being accurate.
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  #66  
Old Posted Jun 6, 2012, 7:35 AM
edluva edluva is offline
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this isn't about energy. get over it people
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  #67  
Old Posted Jun 6, 2012, 2:14 PM
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Originally Posted by 202_Cyclist View Post
In the two and a half years since the bag fee was implemented, I think I have paid maybe fifty cents or one dollar total for all of the plastic bags I've used. It is really not difficult to: 1) bring reusable bags, 2) put a couple of items in a messanger bag or backpack, 3) carry one or two items. If none of those seem to work, I don't mind paying a big nickel for a plastic bag, with the revenue going (hopefully) to clean up the Anacostia river.

There are, what, more than seven billion people on this planet of ours. It is well past time that we stop using something like a shopping bag only once and then throw it out.
I moved to DC a little over a year ago and haven't found the bag tax to be much of a nuisance. I almost always have my messenger bag with me, so if I happen to buy a few things spontaneously, I can put them in there. When I do grocery shopping, it's always planned in advance, meaning it's quite simple to grab some reusable bags to bring along. I doubt I would have changed my habits had the bag tax not been in place, so for me personally I have changed my habits for the better. Occassionally I still get a bag or two if I don't have my messenger bag with me, but I don't mind paying the small fee since I don't pay it often.
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  #68  
Old Posted Jun 6, 2012, 3:37 PM
Private Dick Private Dick is offline
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Originally Posted by pesto View Post
"Inherent energy" is a term without meaning; I hope you are not making a Peak Oil kind of analysis. At best it's a function of what we understand or theorize about molecular (and nuclear) structure; more often it's an application of bad science to unknowable facts (and for technical reasons these are permanently unknowable since facts in this context are creatures of the theory they are used in).

But the point here is that there is a way of keeping track of the energy technologically available and used in any transaction: it's called the "price" of the energy. And there is way of calculating the amount of the energy that goes into a plastic bag: it's called "the price of the energy that goes into making it", and for sure, it can't exceed the TOTAL cost of making it.

I have already done the math above, so that's about it. I should also note that taxes, cartels and regulations can mess up these prices, but not enough to make your comparison even close to being accurate.
Then use "energy content of", "feedstock and process energy", "energy embodied in", "energy characteristic of", whatever... that's a quibble not worth the time.

You're too focused on monetary cost and price. Tracking energy via price and using "the price of the energy that goes into making it" to calculate the amount of energy that goes into something... and then continuing to use monetary price on down the life cycle line is simply not valid. Coming from a life cycle COST perspective for economic decision making, sure, it can make sense with a lot of additions and adjustments to the very basic formula you propose. But you cannot accurately tie discrete units of energy represented in a material directly to a guideline as highly variable as price. There are plenty of widely and long-available studies out there.
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  #69  
Old Posted Jun 6, 2012, 6:49 PM
zilfondel zilfondel is offline
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A couple of points:

-this is not a CO2 reduction policy. Paper bags require more resources to mfgr than plastic bags
-reusable bags are much better environmentally
-plastic bags often don't end up in landfills, and end up in lakes, streams, and blowing down the street.

So its more of a traditional anti-littering law than anything

Anyways, living in Portland, it only applies to grocery stores, although Costco I believe is exempt (same with other big-box stores). Most urban consumers who are carfree plan ahead so that they carry their reusable bags to the store, or they have a large messenger bag to carry things in.
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  #70  
Old Posted Jun 6, 2012, 7:00 PM
zilfondel zilfondel is offline
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Originally Posted by HurricaneHugo View Post
We re-use the plastic bags as trash can liners.

I think a better approach would be to charge 5 cents or so per plastic bag used.
Back in the 1980s (I'm really old, I know), we used to use PAPER bags as trash-can liners.

Shocker, I know! Can you imagine? How could anyone be forced to such desperate measures is beyond me. Well, back in the 1980s, times were tough, as they say, and some of us had to adapt to those difficult times. Plus, have you seen a SQUARE trash can bin? I really don't think they make them anymore!

Obviously American society will completely and totally fail because of the lack of plastic bags. Or, y'know, you could also buy trash bags. Just sayin'.

/sarcasm

I've noticed after my city enacted some very comprehensive and easy-to-do recycling programs, my household of 4 adults generates about 10 pounds of garbage per month. And no, we're not hippies. We are productive, employed adults. Some of us also wear blue jeans and drive cars for work.
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  #71  
Old Posted Jun 7, 2012, 12:14 PM
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So yesterday in Toronto, Mayor Rob Ford went before city council and asked that the 5 cent fee be removed from plastic shopping bags. However, as a complete embarrassment to Ford, the council instead voted to ban plastic bags entirely.

Lets hope the rest of the GTA follows suit.

http://www.thestar.com/news/article/...n-plastic-bags
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