Today the nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) criticized Congressman Jim Moran’s (D-Va.) proposed legislation that would levy a nationwide five-cent tax on plastic bags. If passed, the ban will likely drive Americans to purchase cheap, fabric-like polypropylene bags that can contain excessive levels of lead and serve as breeding grounds for bacteria. Congressman Moran introduced similar legislation last year.
According to an Opinion Research Corporation (ORC) poll, an impressive 93% of respondents say they already reuse so-called “disposable” plastic bags for another purpose, like lining a trash can or cleaning up after their pet. This explains why 67% of Americans oppose a five-cent tax on plastic bags. Ireland actually saw a 400 percent increase in plastic bag purchases following a similar tax, precisely because consumers need and want traditional plastic bags for certain household chores.
“Attempting to demonize or tax plastic bags – as Congressman Moran is proposing – is a perfect example of feel-good policymaking that brings with it myriad unintended consequences,” said J. Justin Wilson, Senior Research Analyst at the Center for Consumer Freedom. “Politicians often offer knee-jerk responses to activist-driven junk science by banning or taxing products without giving any thought to basic human nature. In the end, the new alternative can end up being worse than the replacement."
Moran dubiously suggests that a five-cent tax on plastic bags is “earth friendly,” however, a Wall Street Journal report confirms that the alternative, fabric-like reusable bags, have a greater carbon footprint—nearly 28 times larger—as their plastic reusable brethren.
Wilson continued, “Americans have been goaded into using reusable bags by lawmakers and activists who claim they are safer for consumers and the planet. In reality, it is much more complicated.”