Thursday, July 24, 2008

Regulation Strangulation

It now appears as if the City of Los Angeles is looking to ban the use of plastic bags in supermarkets: "The City Council voted Tuesday to ban plastic shopping bags from stores, beginning July 1, 2010. Shoppers can either bring their own bags or pay 25 cents for a paper or biodegradable bag. The council's unanimous vote also puts pressure on the state, which is considering an Assembly bill that would impose bag recycling requirements on stores. City officials said their ban would not be implemented if the state passes the bill and requires at least a 25-cent charge per bag."

So the LA City Council's action is designed to push the state to place a deposit on 25 cent plastic bags, a measure designed like the bottle bill to insure that the bags are returned for recycling. The cost that the measure would add to the operation of the store is not considered important as long as the environment is saved from the bane of plastic.

But as dangerous as the idea is for the economy of stores, it makes more sense than the recently passed NYC measure that went into effect this week. The NYC bill creates a voluntary collection system that, while it imposes obligations on retailer, has no incentives for the consumer to return any plastic bags.

Our Guess? That the law is just the first step towards the California model; with supermarkets increasing their role as garbage dumps for the greeniacs. When will our enviros understand that stores cannot bear the costs of all of their schemes without some serious repercussions? Regulatory costs are directly correlated with the loss of local supermarkets.

At some point we'll need to consider the health of the local economic environment, and whether there is healthy food available along with good jobs, Small business is not a plaything for those with no concept of how the free enterprise system works. There is cause and effect, and there's no benefit without a cost-it's time for our electeds to examine the cost side of the ledger.