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It’s a circle of life thing

Activists campaign to have a law passed to protect the environment: “Plastic bag backlash gains momentum” – 14 September 2013

Victory! The law is passed: Plastic bag law comes into force on 5th October 2015 – 2 October 2015

Reports tell of the good it has done: Plastic bag charge: Why was it introduced and what impact has it had? – 25 August 2018

But wait, there seems to be problem: ‘Bags for life’ making plastic problem worse, say campaigners – 28 November 2019

What a privilege it is for lovers of nature to be present at the birth of a baby environmental campaign. Be with us as our cameras watch the young pressure group grow, until the day comes when it is strong enough to overturn the law that caused it to exist. The circle is complete.

15 comments to It’s a circle of life thing

  • Rob Fisher

    It’s almost as if centralised micromanagement does not work.

  • Inability to foresee consequences, greatly helped by silencing / cancelling any who raise concerns about them, is a sine qua non of PC campaigns.

  • bobby b

    “Life is a journey, not a destination.”

    ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • the other rob

    “Kill ’em all.”

    – Kurt Russell

  • lucklucky

    “Bags for life” also increase several times infections and water use and detergent.

  • Roué le Jour

    It seems to me that one of the defining characteristics of the left is the inability to understand the difference between “optimum” and “perfect”. The market settles on an optimum solution and they think they can improve on it.

  • John B

    Plastic bags being the expeditionary phase.

    Then how quickly – just days – the full War-on-Plastic spread to the entire EU and North America. The remarkable coincidence of the advance and a single film made by one of the UK’s national treasures… with form for faking nature in the wild, in the studios.

    It is tempting to imagine there was a well prepared and coordinated international effort by the would-be Planetary Fat Controllers, who coordinate all the other Wars-on… obesity, fats, sugar, climate, consumption, fossil fuels, etc.

  • Ted Schuerzinger

    A similar thing happened here in the US with passenger-side airbags. Good in theory, but one of the problems was that they had a tendency to decapitate children and lightweight grown-ups. Of course, the state couldn’t admit its fault, so instead of letting people buy cars without passenger-side airbags, they demonized people into always putting children in the back seat.

    The result of that has been a rash of parents forgetting that they put the infant in the back (often because it’s the other parent who normally takes the child to daycare or whatnot so they’re not used to having a child in the back). The inside of the car heats up, the kid bakes to death, and it’s the parent’s fault. Never the fault of the state that pushed the kids out of the front passenger seat in the first place.

  • Schrodinger's Dog

    I’ll refrain from making any comments about second order effects, as that’s old news by now. It’s well known to everyone that, when confronted with changed circumstances, people change their behaviour. Well known, it seems, to everyone except those who would plan other people’s lives.

    I remember over a decade ago, when single-use plastic bags were starting to become controversial. One day a barrel appeared in the lobby of my local supermarket, for people to place their old plastic bags in for recycling. People duly did so and, what’s more, they really were recycled. I could tell, because the new bags went from being snow white, to having a very slight tinge of grey. Another supermarket, meanwhile, took to knocking a few cents off the bill for people who brought their own bags, which doubtless encouraged people to do so.

    When it comes to plastic bags, as with so many other things, the private sector tends to come up with better solutions.

  • Schrodinger's Dog

    Roué le Jour (November 29th, 2:48pm). Absolutely spot on. That’s an observation which deserves much wider recognition. I nominate it for SQOTD.

  • Paul Marks

    It is very Michael Bloomberg – very “I want everyone else to live as I want them to live – down to the smallest detail”.

    Mr Bloomberg was not behind this British legislation – but the spirit of the same education system (the spirit of Plato) that produced Mr Bloomberg, is at the heart of it.

    Bizarrely this attitude is now called “liberalism”.

  • Frank

    A small anecdote from my corner of Australia.

    We got plastic bags as a replacement for paper bags to save the trees.

    They were free and flimsy, but good for lining the bin with and then throwing out.

    Then we got mandated reusable plastic bags for 15c to discourage the rampant wastage and to reduce the amount of plastic in landfill.

    Naturally the landfill began filling up with thicker more durable plastic bags and so they had to ban them, replacement being in the form of equally thick biodegradable plastic bags but still 15c. This sort of negates the point of charging people money for a reusable plastic bag it seems.

    Now they are reintroducing paper bags because of all the plastic in the environment.

  • Julie near Chicago


    It is said that many (most? all?) of our landfills are so constructed that methane can’t form within them (said to be awful for The Planet), and biodegradation in them takes thousands of years even for stuff that if left outside to just weather over a year would largely biodegrade.

    It is also said that much of our trash used to be sold to China for them to recycle, but that they really don’t need any more of it; and that we don’t want to have to clean items like “tin”* cans and plastic bottles that held food items, so they go into the landfills also.

    Apparently this extends also to aluminum semi-disposable foodware and foil: They’d have to clean it too, and besides it is said that recently aluminum has become cheap enough to mine that there’s not much interest in it for commercial recyclers.

    *I am old, Father William.

    Nowadays (though plus ça change, so forth), I really don’t know what to believe from what I read, so this is all FWIW.

    If anybody has direct, first-hand knowledge about any of this, ‘twould be most welcome.

  • David Bishop

    Natalie’s point is well made. Other commenters have also ably pointed out that greenies’ ‘feelz first’ activism means that they have precious little sense of longer-term planning or the law of unintended consequences.

    Perhaps they should have read the thorough analysis by the Ministry of Environment and Food of Denmark, Environmental Protection Agency: Life Cycle Assessment of grocery carrier bags (February 2018) – thoughtfully in English as well as Danish.


    They looked at the full life cycle environmental impact of a range of bags of different materials, from the humble and much-maligned LDPE to organic cotton. And guess which one came out best? Yes, the LDPE. This quote is from the report:

    “Which is the carrier bag providing the lowest environmental impacts? In general with regards to production and disposal, LDPE carrier bags, which are the bags that are always available for purchase in Danish supermarkets, are the carriers providing the overall lowest environmental impacts for most environmental indicators (Table III).”

    And the organic cotton? Cotton good, yes? Organic cotton plus good, yes? Well, not quite. According to table IV, an organic cotton bag would need to be used 20,000 times to equal the environmental impact of the single-use LDPE bag. Strewth!

  • TDK

    What a privilege it is for lovers of nature to be present at the birth of a baby environmental campaign. Be with us as our cameras watch the young pressure group grow, until the day comes when it is strong enough to overturn the law that caused it to exist. The circle is complete.

    If socialists or greens (but I repeat myself) were concerned with consequences, they would cease to be socialists (or greens). The theory is right and consequently they will move to ban re-usuable bags, on the road to banning all man-made artifacts.