Bag the Ban

Jan 10, 2018

To the Editor:

This letter is in reference to some residents’ request to enact a plastic bag ordinance. While on its face it might seem like a good idea, it really is not, for many reasons, some of which are outlined below.

1. Such an ordinance is unwarranted government interference into private business without any measurable public benefit.

2. Plastic bags are inexpensive and highly functional compared to paper and reusable bags. Further, defining what is a single-use plastic bag and what is not is a difficult task. Is it by size, thickness, composition, intended use or some other factor?

3. Banning plastic will increase businesses costs. Many businesses have thousands of dollars’ worth of plastic bag inventory, which will take two or more years to use up. Paper and reusable bags often cost substantially more than plastic and are more costly to transport and store. Paper must be kept in a low humidity environment or it deteriorates.

4. Paper bags are especially harmful to the environment relative to plastic when one considers the manufacturing process, energy consumption and added distribution costs. They consume at least four times the resources per bag. Additionally, the production of most reusable bags consumes even more energy and resources than either paper or plastic bag manufacturing.

5. Paper bags are often not as recyclable as they appear as many have a non-biodegradable coating or content.

6. Plastic alternative products are unsuitable for containing many items including wet products, food, irregularly shaped items and unboxed items. The first time a carryout meal leaks through the bag and on to your car seats you will curse the use of paper. Visitors to LBI would probably be particularly offended.  Municipalities like Myrtle Beach had to quickly amend their attempted ban to exempt supermarkets, restaurants, farm stands and convenience stores due to the multitude of consumer complaints.

7. Reusable bags are rarely used properly. Most are made of canvas or nonwoven fabric. They are virtually never cleaned and quickly harbor a multitude of bacteria and germs. Reusing bags for fresh produce is almost a guarantee for spreading disease.

8. Many reusable bags are made in China and Vietnam while most disposables are produced in the U.S. New Jersey has several plastic and paper bag manufacturing companies but no reusable bag production facilities.

9. Plastic bags sometimes harm marine life, but they are a very minor cause compared to beverage carriers and sewer and chemical runoff. Local governments should be fighting to strengthen EPA regulations instead of letting the federal government weaken them as they have been doing.

Why would LBI governments want to increase local business costs and annoy residents, visitors and customers for no good reason? Instead of banning plastic bags let’s provide a convenient method of recycling them or an economic incentive to reduce usage or reuse bags.

Thanks for considering a local business owner’s point of view. In an earlier life I spent more than 30 years in the plastic, paper and chemical industries and am very familiar with the concerns people have about packaging. Most of their concerns are not fact based and wind up costing governments and consumers millions of dollars to investigate and consider alternatives, which often turn out to be a worse problem than the original concern.

Howie Brecher, treasurer


Beach Haven


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