Queue the virtue signaling. The National Retail Association (NRA) claims there has been an 80% drop in the use of “single use” plastic bags in the past three months since it was introduced across supermarkets in Australia. The irony is that this claim is not backed up by the increased sales of plastic bags from “aisle 7” so consumers can dispose of household rubbish. All they did was substitute bags, not cut down on the total use. Spuriously quiet on that front!
Who cares when one can shout out their empty environmentalism that aren’t backed by facts?
Putting the substitution argument to one side, not one group has told us what the “correct level of plastic use” actually is. Perhaps we should ban takeaway outlets for the obscene short term use of plastic trays and cutlery!
In 2006 the UK Environment Agency did a study on the effectiveness of alternative packaging solutions to HDPE (conventional plastic bags) in terms of lowering environmental impact. It said,
“The paper, LDPE, non-woven PP and cotton bags should be reused at least 3, 4, 11 and 131 times respectively to ensure that they have lower [impact] than conventional HDPE carrier bags that are not reused.”
So if conventional biodegradable plastic shopping bags are used to throw out garbage that means 6, 8, 22 and 262 days.
While we’re at it, do people realize that the majority of take away wax-lined coffee cups aren’t recycled even though you can feel good about yourself when disposing of it in the right bin? How many people elect to have their brew poured into a ceramic cup? Look next time – hardly any! The cost to recycle the 500 billion (and rising) coffee cups consumed annually is so astronomical (it is hard to separate the wax that stops the cup disintegrating because of the energy intensity involved to do so) that over 90% end up in landfill. No one talks about that 300 million tons of virgin paper used to make these cups! How many of us give it one thought when we need a shot of caffeine? Right?! Although Starbucks is trialing a 5p latte levy for those that elect to use a paper cup.
All this ban has done has inconvenience people. 60% of mismanaged plastic waste was from East Asia (i.e. China), 11% from South Asia; 9% from sub-Saharan Africa; 8% from MENA; 7% from LatAm; 3% from Europe and 0.9% from North America. Australia doesn’t even get a mention. Our impact is zero.
So much like the “save the planet” renewables movement in Australia with regards to electricity generation. Our efforts to push for less reliable sources of power which will cause higher prices will create zero impact in lowering world temperatures by 2100.
So our cutting of plastic bags will likely have zero impact on plastic waste unless we get the environmental vandals of China, SE Asia and Africa to lift up their socks. Why do we self-flagellate when we’re not the problem? Do we honestly think China cares what Woolies do inside supermarkets?
Why does the mass media not ask simple questions instead of regurgitate incomplete stats?