Sun. Feb 25th, 2024

By Samuel Strait, Reporter at Large – December 30, 2021

There are many people in this Country that do not understand the vital
role that plastic has in our standard of living, a role that appears to
be completely lost on the extreme environmentalists in California. In
the State in particular continuous efforts have been made by
environmental looneys to curb the use of fossil fuels, of which
unfortunately plastics are a by product.  In 2017 environmental groups
aided by large scale retail companies successfully asked for and
received a ban on single use plastic bags.  You know them as the thin
gossamer shopping bags that were ubiquitous with going to most any store
in California to encompass your newly purchased goods for the trip
home.  Often savaged by environmentalists groups as a bane on the the
landscape to be tossed indiscriminately by the State’s “Walmart”
shoppers on roadsides, in waters, and in landfills to take decades to
disintegrate back into nature.  A blight on civilization and a danger to
most wildlife fit to be banned from human use.

And then what, at least in California.  The replacements for the single
use bag had to be recyclable.  It is not like we haven’t heard that one
before, without much success to the happenings in our wallets.  Large
scale retailer were on board.  Gone was the expense of providing cheap
bags to the customers for free, replaced by a new revenue stream of
selling shopping bags. Environmentalists were overjoyed.  Gone was
another dastardly human invention which plagued their every waking
moment.   Victory declared, or was it?

As everyone got on board with the “new” shopping concept of bring your
own recyclable bags to shop, or purchase the new “recyclable” version at
the store, things looked rosy for environmentalists and retail stores as
the ten cent surcharge provided them with a new revenue stream to make
the investors happy.   California was on a roll, more regulation that
would soon have unintended consequences.  In 2019, Governor Hair Gel
decided he needed yet another appointed commission to “advise” state
authorities on how to improve recycling programs.  The sixteen members
of the commission were to be made up with representatives from
environmental groups, state agencies, and private solid waste
businesses.  Most can probably see where this was going, we are in
California after all.

The environmentalist segment of the commission soon discovered that the
recycling aspect of the “new” bags was being abused by many businesses,
and to further complicate matters, recyclers refused to accept the “new”
bags due to the high cost of recycling such bags.   The “new” bags
suddenly took on the appearance of single use bags, horror of horrors,
and something must be done about it.  The commission reviewed the return
programs  of the “new” bags at several large chain retailers and deemed
them inadequate.  Retailers were going to be forced to stop selling the
“new” recyclable bags until they were manufactured with “recyclable
materials”, what ever that means.  That should fix the problem according
to the commission Chair, Heidi Sanborn, an environmental activist who is
the founding director of the group, National Stewardship Action
Council.  Where do they come up with these names?

In any event the commission has sent a letter to California’s
replacement Attorney General, Rob Bonta, and the California Department
of Resources Recycling and Recovery, asking them to make those
miscreants toe the line with legal action.  Wow, sounds like there is
another version of the unvaccinated in the State. Clearly the commission
doesn’t know how big retail chains operate when faced with regulation
that affects their bottom line.  What was once a lucrative extra revenue
stream has now become a liability;  hence , major retailers are going to
stop the bleeding.  It is second nature for them.  If the product that
they are selling, in this case recyclable shopping bags, are no longer
profitable, they restructure the product.  If it can’t be recycled, who
is going to make them change the product to become recyclable if it
cannot be made cost effective.  Like President “Ice Cream Cone” Biden,
they will do it until they are told they can’t do it.

Going forward, in order for retailers to comply with the single use
plastic bag ban a replacement must be sought that actually can be
recycled.  All current plastics are too costly to be collected,
transported, and sold to be recycled, recycled bags at the store
included.  Kind of like the Cervantes tale, not much chance of a
successful outcome, but we are in California where rational thought in
government has long ceased to exist.  When “environmentalists” are asked
to “advise” nothing good will come of it.

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