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Plastic bag levy is science-free environmental populism

Press Release – ACT New Zealand

ACT Leader David Seymour is urging MPs and pundits to consider overseas evidence showing the unintended consequences of plastic bag levies, as a bill on the issue is being introduced to the private members ballot.ACT Leader David Seymour is urging MPs and pundits to consider overseas evidence showing the unintended consequences of plastic bag levies, as a bill on the issue is being introduced to the private members’ ballot.

“It’s a nice piece of environmental populism, but laws should be judged on their actual environmental effects, not just their intentions. A levy might reduce plastic bag use, but there would be substitution effects as people switch to reusable plastic or cotton bags.

“The incentive for businesses is to switch to heavier ‘multi-use’ (but still plastic) bags, absorbing the cost and handing them out to customers for free as a point of difference. These bags are far worse for the environment, and (when provided for free) will be discarded as casually as single-use bags. That’s what’s happened in Austin.

“The issue isn’t just litter – considerable resources and carbon emissions are involved in the production and transport of multi-use bags. Very few resources go into single-use bags – that’s why they’re so cheap.

“Even cotton bags would need to be used 131 times each in order to be better than plastic bags in terms of limiting global warming, according to Britain’s Environment Agency.

“The Greens’ policy is science-free and economics-free. Beyond ignoring evidence around environmental impacts, they appear to have pulled their ‘15 cent’ price from out of thin air, ignoring the fact that rational market-based pricing is vital to ensure people use resources efficiently.

“Finally, the levy would mean another layer of bureaucracy for businesses who have to keep track of sales and essentially process an entirely new tax. These little bureaucratic frustrations quickly add up, and the costs are inevitably passed onto consumers.

“We need to get smarter about the hidden costs of regulations, instead of just copy-pasting trendy overseas initiatives.”

ENDS

Background:

http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/emily-richards/austins-plastic-bag-ban-worse-environment-bags-it-outlaws
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/11912052/Plastic-bag-charge-the-unintended-consequences-of-the-5p-deterrent.html

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