While the economy-crushing coronavirus shutdowns are wreaking havoc in just about every industry, the plastic industry is seeing, at least temporarily, one “win”: A growing number of liberal cities and states that have imposed bans or fees on single-use plastic bags are reversing their policies amid concerns about the health risks posed by reusable bags.
“In the latest sign of how dramatically the coronavirus pandemic is altering the social landscape, even the liberal San Francisco Bay Area this week banned reusable grocery bags as a sanitary measure, dismaying recycling advocates who say durable sacks should still be allowed at stores,” Politico reported earlier this week.
The famously radical-left city’s Department of Public Health announced the temporary reversal of its 2007 plastic bag ban on Tuesday as part of an update to its coronavirus “stay-at-home” order. The new ordinance restricts customers from bringing into stores their own reusable items, like bags and mugs.
As usual, San Francisco is leading the way in terms of severity of its ban effort, imposing what Politico’s Debra Kahn describes as “the most stringent coronavirus-related restriction placed on reusable bags in California.”
“[F]aced with the realities of the coronavirus, the city’s leaders have realized that excessive environmentalism isn’t always compatible with the realities of the world we live in today,” Hot Air’s Jazz Shaw writes. “As such, the ban has been not only lifted but reversed. Reusable bags are now banned in the City by the Bay.”
In other words, the city that once led the nation in reusable bag enforcement is now one of the first to officially ban them.
And, as Shaw notes, San Francisco isn’t the only progressive city reversing course on the plastic bag ban — “Maine, New York and Massachusetts have all either suspended their plastic bag bans or halted enforcement of the regulations,” he writes.
Meanwhile, as reported by Politico, the plastic industry is pushing hard for their cause across the country, lobbying on the federal level as well as some key states, including New York and New Jersey, “asserting that often-unwashed reusable bags are hotbeds for the coronavirus, which early research suggests can remain on surfaces.”
Along with the plastic ban reversal in San Francisco, other “environmentally-friendly” efforts have been abandoned by the general populace, with people rushing out to their local grocery stores to buy up all of the bottled water, while companies impose their own bans on reusable items, including Starbucks and Coffee Bean.
Environmentalists are trying to push back, but so far to no avail. Kahn cites Californians Against Waste Executive Director Mark Murray chiding the “misguided” anti-reusable bag movement, but also expressing some sympathy. “This fear of bringing reusable bags into the stores is misguided, but I certainly understand why store employees don’t want to handle somebody else’s things,” said Murray. “I wouldn’t have any expectation that somebody is going to put my groceries into my bag that I brought from home.”