Saturday, February 9, 2013

The economic effect of plastic bag bans

Hah!  I ruminned on this not too long ago wondering what the sales would be between two stores bordering the area where plastic bags were banned.  And there's a study!  Link is from Junkscience.com
During a one-year period, before and after the ban, the majority of stores surveyed in areas with a ban reported an overall average sales decline of nearly 6%. While the majority of respondents surveyed in areas without a ban reported an overall average sales growth of 9%.

The study also sought to determine if consumers changed their shopping behavior by increasing purchases at stores that could still offer plastic bags. Pamela Villarreal, NCPA senior fellow, told PlasticsToday it was interesting to find that consumers chose to shop at stores unaffected by the ban.

"What we suspect is people that live in an area under a bag ban, but are in close proximity to an area without one, will 'vote with their feet,'" she said. "We often hear that people oppose plastic bags, but it sure does look like a lot of people do like them."

Potential jobs impact

The NCPA survey said that stores under the bag ban also experienced a 10% reduction in employment, while employment in stores outside of the ban slightly increased. Villarreal said that was particularly "alarming."

"We often hear about the environmental effects of plastic bags, but the economic effects are generally ignored," she said. "When you think about the unemployment rate in this country, any negative impact on employment is something to take notice of."
And in the end that's what gets me.  OK. Yeah, when the economy is going great guns, you pass the ban and the economy can reabsorb the workers who lose their jobs.  But when the economy is down and people are getting kicked in the teeth is NOT the time to throw them out on their ears!

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