News and Commentary

STUDY: Banning Straws Could Lead To Environmental And Economic Complications

The state of California has tackled a variety of social reforms including raising taxes, lowering the standard of living, clamping down on small businesses, and of course the evil nemesis of all leftists, the straw. They specifically target the plastic used in them, expanded polystyrene (EPS) also known as Styrofoam®.

The Daily Wire editor-in-chief Ben Shapiro discussed this in Newsweek,

Now, is such a straw ban necessary? Not really. The oft-cited statistic that suggests that Americans use 500 million straws per day is utterly nuts, and based on the research of a nine-year-old. Seriously. Five countries are responsible for 60 percent of all plastic waste dumped in the ocean: China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, according to a study released by Ocean Conservancy and McKinsey. The United States ships a lot of our waste plastic to China for recycling, for example, and China then reportedly dumps it in the ocean.

The non-partisan public-policy research organization Independent Institute did a study that seemed to confirm Ben Shapiro’s assessment.

According to their research, the ban could have a negative economic impact on the restaurant businesses in the area.

In addition to the impact that EPS bans have on retailers, the cost to manufacturers of EPS is significant. Based on multipliers calculated by Keybridge Research, the direct and indirect impacts of the ban on EPS manufacturing in New York City could eliminate 2,000 jobs and $400 million in economic activity. In California, an estimated 8,000 jobs would disappear.

It would not only negatively affect the economy, by costing jobs and raising the prices of goods, but the study also finds that while the short term effect of a ban may seem positive, in the long-term, any alternative would be more difficult to recycle or be less environmentally sound.

Many of the biodegradable plastics that are offered as alternatives to EPS are even more difficult to recycle. The California State Water Resources Control Board released a study stating that “mere substitution would not result in reduced trash generation if such product substitution would be discarded in the same manner as the banned item.

While seemingly good intentioned, the straw ban is nothing more than California officials attempting to implement a Nanny-state on its citizens. This is why a free market is needed to determine what is acceptable. In this case, the government is forcing its constituents to make decisions that not only negatively impact their business, but could be detrimental to the environment, which they claim to care about.