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Dubuque may limit plastic bag use



This news story was published on March 21, 2012.
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DUBUQUE – The Dubuque Telegraph Herald is reporting that the Dubuque City Council on Monday approved the first reading of an ordinance that would require businesses to report the number of plastic bags they use.

A final vote on the matter would take place after at least one more reading by the council.

Here is the agenda item:

Retail Single-Use Plastic Bag Reporting

City Manager requesting approval of an Ordinance that will require retailers, based on size, to report their purchase and distribution of plastic bags in order to measure community-wide progress towards the adopted goal of reducing single-use plastic bag use 90% by 2017 in Dubuque.
“Customers expect plastic,” said a large Dubuque retail store manager.  “It is really up to the city to decide how this is enforced.  We need cooperation from the city and customers to make this work.  I am all for using re-usable shopping bags.  They are a poly-blend.  I don’t know how they are going to enforce this, especially with out-of-town and out-of-state customers.”  He said plastic bags are a huge expense to the store, and he would love to reduce the usage.

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One Response to Dubuque may limit plastic bag use

  1. Bill Reply Report comment

    April 5, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    It’s sad that good motivations could bring bad rules regarding plastic bags to Dubuque.

    A measure designed to discourage merchants from providing plastic bags is being considered by the City Council there. If it is enacted and plastic bag use is reduced, the environmental consequences will be opposite of what is intended.

    That’s because the most frequent “reusable” bags, made of non-woven polypropylene, have a greater carbon footprint than plastic due to fossil fuel usage and poor durability. Their failed remnants present disposal problems that are perhaps worse than plastic’s. The social consequences of their use also are severe because virtually all are made in Chinese sweatshops.

    Studies indicate that, unlike a few years ago, most plastic bags are reused at least once or are recycled. One ingenious British analysis shows that you would need to use most “reusable” bags dozens of times to achieve better eco-friendly results than with a plastic bag that is reused only one time.

    Surprisingly, the more expensive and durable cotton reusable grocery bags are even less earth-friendly because of the huge quantity of fossil fuels required in growing, processing and manufacturing.

    There are good alternatives to these poor reusable bags, but all are expensive. Merchants pushing the cheap reusables gain an undeserved reputation for being green-oriented. Their customers are lured into believing that they are trendy by being seen acting “green.” It’s a massive fraud from which we all suffer due to environmental damage.

    The Dubuque Council will serve its city best by encouraging wise use of plastic or the more expensive reusables made from organic cotton, hemp, jute or kudzu. An Iowa-based social enterprise I am sponsoring offers the Nature Bag, Earth’s Greenest Bag, which is crafted in homes without agriculture or manufacturing, is durable, elastic, minimalistic and lightweight. In the unlikely event the Khmu’s kudzu bag ever becomes reusable, burying it will help your garden grow!