Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce Continues to Oppose Single Use Plastic Bag Ban

CEO

At a recent joint Government Relations Committee (GRC) and Industrial Commercial Economic Development (ICED) meeting, we reviewed (for the second time) both sides of the plastic bag ban issue.  As a point of clarification, the Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce has had a long standing position of opposition to the banning of plastic bags.  We were urged to revisit our position once again and did take a hard look at both sides of the issue on September 10. 

As would be expected, both sides presented strong evidence for us to support their respective position.  The pro plastic ban speaker presented data that showed plastic bags represent 10% of the pollution that we find in our creeks, streams and oceans.  It was also pointed out that we are one of the few remaining cities in Santa Clara County still allowing the use of single carryout plastic bags.  Lastly, cities that have the bag ban in place have seen high percentages of reduced bag litter in their storm drain system.

Of course, the opposition to the bag ban supplied data that shows that less than .5% of the waste stream and less than 1% of the litter stream consists of plastic bags.  We were also reminded that plastic bags are 100% recyclable, reusable and made from natural gas, not oil, in the United States.  Plastic bags are also reused by 9 out of 10 people.  And most importantly, the plastic bag industry supports more than 1,900 jobs in California.

The GRC & ICED members voiced concerns about the additional costs passed onto consumers when they have to pay for their bags and to business owners for the costs of stocking and maintaining reusable bags.   There was a strong belief that educating the public about plastic bag recycling options would be a better alternative.  The overriding sentiment was solutions to issues such as this should not be punitive.

After thoroughly reviewing both sides of this issue, the GRC voted to recommend to the Chamber Board of Directors that we continue to oppose a single use plastic bag ban.  This recommendation was approved by the board of directors at their September 24 meeting.

The Santa Clara City Council will be considering a plastic bag ban very soon as it is one of the priority goals set for completion in March 2014.  Rest assured, the Chamber will be engaged in this process advocating for the business community.

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One thought on “Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce Continues to Oppose Single Use Plastic Bag Ban

  1. Please check out my blog at: http://fighttheplasticbagban.com for informative articles about the plastic bag ban. The Chamber of Commerce is to congratulated for taking an opposing stance on this issue and for standing for common sense. Plastic bag bans are failures. This is exemplified by the fact that in San Jose 43.5% of customers left the store with no bag, 22% approximately left with paper bags. That is about 2:1 against reusable bags.

    Furthermore, a bag ban trades one problem for another. A plastic bag litter problem (less than 0.6% of roadside litter) that has no impact on my personal life is traded for a time consuming problem confronting me every time I shop. Shoppers either put up with the problems of using reusable bags (handling bags, washing bags, water and energy use = higher utility bills), paying for paper bags, or choosing the inconvenience of using no bag. A litter problem is traded for a problem every time I go shopping. This is not about solving problems.

    It costs stores about $10-20 per year to supply a family of four with plastic bags. This same family of four would spend about $80 per year on paper bags at 10-cents each. The same family would spend $250-300 per year on using reusable bags. For the latter, this cost includes both the cost of reusable bags, utility costs for water and energy to wash bags, and the value of ones labor to handle bags (inspect bags, fold bags, put bags in car, take bags into store, wash bags) at $12 per hour.

    If you would like to learn more about why plastic bag bans are bad for residents, please visit my website: http://fighttheplasticbagban.com

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