It’s a classic conundrum that occurs whenever far-left busybodies are given political power.
New laws and regulations are enacted but they come with a host of unintended consequences.
Now New Jersey’s ban on plastic bags just made things much worse for the environment.
In the past few years there has been a full-on push by radical environmentalists to ban plastic bags.
Environmental activists claimed that production of plastic bags requires extreme amounts of energy and resources, and releases toxic chemicals into the atmosphere.
Those chemicals are claimed to cause cancer and respiratory illnesses in humans and animals.
Adding insult to injury, they say that the bags are notorious for polluting waterways when they are discarded.
All of that sounds like a genuine problem that perhaps could be mitigated by some creative incentive program or other solutions to discourage overuse of plastic bags.
But, this being New Jersey, the powers that be decided instead simply to ban their use.
The Garden State implemented a ban on plastic bags that were single-use in 2022.
Phil Murphy thought he bagged a solution but he was way off
Signing the ban into law (and probably envisioning patting himself on the back while doing so), Gov. Phil Murphy (D) said, “Plastic bags are one of the most problematic forms of garbage, leading to millions of discarded bags that stream annually into our landfills, rivers and oceans. With today’s historic bill signing, we are addressing the problem of plastic pollution head-on with solutions that will help mitigate climate change and strengthen our environment for future generations.”
While single-use plastic bags were nixed in Garden State grocery stores, customers were encouraged to instead purchase reusable bags made of woven and non-woven polypropylene plastic, or to bring their previously-purchased reusable bags to the store.
But, as surely as night follows day, the heavy-handed government action didn’t work out as planned.
Instead of reusing the heavy-duty bags that were deemed okay to take place of the flimsier bags that had been banned, many shoppers simply discarded them as well.
But the problem gets worse, because the next time those shoppers needed to go on a grocery run, they bought all new heavy-duty bags.
Study: Government edict made things so much worse
According to a study conducted by Freedonia Custom Research (FCR), a business research division for MarketResearch.com, “[Six times] more woven and non-woven polypropylene plastic was consumed to produce the reusable bags sold to consumers as an alternative. Most of these alternative bags are made with non-woven polypropylene, which is not widely recycled in the United States and does not typically contain any post-consumer recycled materials. This shift in material also resulted in a notable environmental impact, with the increased consumption of polypropylene bags contributing to a 500% increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions compared to non-woven polypropylene bag production in 2015.”
The new law completely backfired as plastic consumption in the state has nearly tripled from 53 million pounds of plastic before the ban, compared to 151 million pounds following the ban, according to the study.
In the end, this shows that “Doing Something” in the face of the latest moral panic isn’t always wise, especially when repercussions aren’t considered.
The faster that politicians learn that lesson, the better off the public will be.
Stay tuned to Blue State Blues for any updates to this ongoing story.