The global outrage against plastic bag usage is comically one dimensional and no one really understands or talks about the negatives of completely getting rid of these bags. Sure, plastic bags are not as biodegradable as paper or fabric, but that’s just one factor. People conveniently forget about other environmental factors such as carbon footprint, water pollution, recyclability, and others.
The result of this relentless negative press has caused governments to ban plastic bags while the negative effects of eliminating them completely loom in the horizon.
Carbon Emission Can Rise Following Plastic Ban
While there is a lot of limelight on the poor biodegradability of plastic bags, there is not enough importance given to carbon footprint. Carbon emission during manufacturing and transporting plastic bags is much lower compared to paper and fabric bags. Unlike paper and fabric, the manufacturing process of plastic bags also causes very little water pollution. If plastic bags are banned and are replaced with paper and fabric alternatives, there is a high likelihood that carbon emissions are going to rise.
Without Proper Disposal System We Will Start Littering Something Else
A lot of people believe that banning plastic bags will reduce the number of rogue plastic bags on the street. While that might be true, it’s only going to be replaced by something else.
That’s because simply banning plastic bags does nothing to stop our habit of littering. Dyes from paper bags and fabric may cause a whole new environmental problem if they are littered indiscriminately.
Banning Plastic Bags Might Impact Small Business
When governments ban plastic bags, it not only impacts the plastic bag manufacturers but also small shops. Shops will lose customers who forgot to bring along their own bags.
Banning Plastic Bags is Going to Negatively Affect the Economy
How does banning plastic bags impact the economy? Well, the reason for that is simple. Customers being restricted by the size of their reusable carry bags will refrain from over-shopping. When people reduce their buying, it’s inevitably going to slow down the economy.
Landfills Are Not Going to Get Cleaner
Contrary to popular propaganda, landfills are not filled with plastic bags. In fact, plastic bags constitute only a very small percentage of the total waste in landfills. Cigarette buds, paper pieces, and organic waste make up for a bulk of the total waste in landfills. If landfills were in fact filled with plastic, however, the emission of greenhouse gases resulting from decomposing organic materials would be much lower.
It Will Completely Halt Biodegradable Plastic Bag Research
In recent years, huge strides have been made in terms of developing biodegradable plastic bags. By banning plastic bags and shutting down the industry, there is a significant risk of stopping the research and development of biodegradable plastic bags. Worried about the technicalities of government regulations, these research programs might struggle to get investors.
Possible Food Shortage
This one’s a biggie. The total area of farmable land in the world is constant. Now, if plastic bags are replaced with fabric or paper bags, farmlands would need to be devoted to meet the new demand. This would either lead to cutting down of forests to make way for new cotton and paper plantations or force farmers to produce these materials on lands that were previously used to grow food crops. Either way, it’s going to be a hefty price to pay.