At least government gets bigger in plastic
Dallas City Council member Dwaine Caraway, after months and months of trying, pushed through a compromise 5 cent fee on plastic grocery bags (Brad Loper/Staff Photographer)
As with any compromise, should you be sad you didn get your way or glad it didn turn out worse?
Supporters of banning the distribution of plastic (and paper) grocery bags in Dallas put on their best brave faces yesterday. City Council member Dwaine Caraway didn get his full on, thou shall not prohibition, but he did sway seven colleagues to go with him on a 5 cent fee per bag.
If you don want to pay the fee, just say no. Bring your own reusable bag or buy one from the store. Use your pockets or your bare hands to haul your lunch meat and D Toms Shoes iet Big Red home.
Will this make a difference? Opinions vary, even among ban bots. still a step in the right direction because it will still result in a huge reduction in the number of bags that will be distributed, said Zac Trahan of th Toms Shoes e Texas Campaign for the Environment.
Like Trahan, your local editorial board was all in for a ban. Our editorial earlier this month was dismissive of solutions like a bag fee or stricter recycling programs, in part for reasons that seem to contradict Trahan reduction should ban thin plastic shopping bags. The alternatives a fee for bags, a refund for their return or a better recycling program are less effective or ineffective ways to deal with the problem the bags create. If the Dallas City Council is serious about a cleaner city, banning bags is the right step. [.]
In Washington, where a fee was adopted, collections have remained stable, suggesting consumers simply adjust to the cost. Even strong recycling programs recapture only a fractio Toms Shoes Toms Shoes g>n of bags and don’t reduce the number used.
Shortly before the vote, even Caraway had stepped away from an outright ban and wanted a vote on a 10 cent fee (or $1 per transaction charge):”Hell, I’m tired of it, let’s go up or down and get this thing under control, let’s have a clean city, let’s keep our environment clean We can’t just be kinda green, mint green, if you’re preaching, ‘Be green.'”
So is a 5 cent fee, instead of a ban, green Can your local editorial board credibly argue that this compromise is green it true that I considered this conversation little more than a waste of time in a city that one might argue has bigger problems than litter in some parts of it. Feel free to disagree, of course.
But if the goal was a reduction in this pernicious litter, how will we ever know if the bag fee succeeded? We have no baseline of anything approaching data on how serious the plastic bag litter problem is today, other than anecdotes and feelings. In six months or a year or 10 years, it will be what it is, but we have no reference point to what it was.
It tough to measure from nowhere to somewhere. Once you establish the revenue stream the city keeps 90 percent of each nickel collected it like hoping for a lower property tax rate: a waste of time.
The city says the money raised from the bag fees will help go toward funding enforcement and education efforts that assistant city manager Jill Jordan told the council could cost around $250,000 and necessitate the hiring of up to 12 additional staff members.
So good news for those who think this way: Even if you didn get your ban, at least government gets a little bigger.
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The Dallas Morning News Editorial Board was the first editorial board in the nation to use a blog to openly discuss hot topics and issues among its members and with readers. Our intent is to pull back the curtain on the daily process of producing the unsigned editorials that reflect the opinion of the newspaper, and to share analysis and opinion on issues of interest to board members and invited guest bloggers.