The science is settled, and it does not back up efforts by several members of San Antonio City Council to ban those cheap plastic bags which are distributed by grocery and big box stores, dry cleaners, and other business, 1200 WOAI news reports.
Dr. H. Sterling Burnett, one of the country's leading authorities on energy and environmental issues, studied four cities which have already banned plastic bags in the name of 'helping the environment.' The National Center for Policy Analysts says bag bans do nothing to reduce the costs of collecting trash, as supporters of the San Antonio ban claim.
"In every case, their solid waste disposal costs are increasing," Burnett told 1200 WOAI's Michael Board. "They were increasing faster than the rate of inflation."
San Francisco was the first city in the U.S. to implement a comprehensive ban on the distribution of plastic bags. Burnett says since the ban took effect in 2007, garbage and recycling costs rose more than 78%.
In addition, researchers say plastic grocery bags are actually more environmentally friendly than the alternatives, according for less than one half of one percent of the entire waste stream.
In addition, producing the canvas recyclable bags that advocates of the environment claim more people should uses more resources and crates more greenhouse gasses, and produces more waste and pollution than plastic grocery bags.
One of the cities studied is Brownsville, which implemented Texas' first plastic bag restrictions in 2011. For the first two years of the ban, Burnett says solid waste expenses have risen.
Same thing in Los Angeles, which banned plastic bags in 2011. Spending for solid waste removal has risen 5.9% since the bag ban took effect.
"In no case did we find that plastic bag bans saved a city money," Burnett said.
He says another unintended consequence of bag bans in places like San Francisco is they force customers to go to stores in the suburbs where the bag bans are not in place, and that damages the city's economy.
Bans on plastic bags are another example of naive city officials who think that something 'looks' good, so they decide to do it. But Burnett says the back costs of making the canvas bag alternatives are never taken into consideration, and they should be.
"Actually, plastic bags are the green alternative," he said. "They save money, and they save the environment."