The Los Angeles City Council had made a unanimous decision to impose a ban on plastic bags from stores in the city. From July 2010, consumers in LA have two choices to keep in mind before shopping - either to bring their own bags or pay 25 cents for a paper or biodegradable bag.
"We've gotten to a point where we need to act as a city, where we can have real results," said Councilman Ed Reyes, who proposed the bag ban. "We're trying to do it in a way where we can educate and inform the public of what we're doing."
The main reason why the use of ubiquitous flimsy plastic bags is outlawed is due to its non-biodegradable characteristics. This means that it takes many years for the plastics bags to fully decompose by bacteria. As a result, the city has to incur huge costs to manage the used bags by daily cleanups.
Los Angeles is not the first city to impose the new law aimed at curbing land pollution caused by the plastic bags. San Francisco implemented a similar scheme in early 2007, banning plastic checkout bags at large supermarkets and chain pharmacies. Paper bags are now frequently used by the shoppers.
Nevertheless, some people believed that although the ban will help combat land pollution, other problems such as land and water pollution will rise.
Paper bags, meanwhile, generate 70% more air pollutants and 50 times more water pollutants than plastic bags, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This is because four times as much energy is required to produce paper bags and 85 times as much energy is needed to recycle them. Paper takes up nine times as much space in landfills and doesn't break down there at a substantially faster rate than plastic does.
Are Singaporeans ready for such a ban? In my opinion, we are not ready to embrace such a new ruling yet. I have seen shoppers who are still oblivious of the 'Bring Your Own Bag' day. It will take time before we can fully get ourself involved in the green revolution. As for now, what the Singapore government can do is perhaps to copy paste the system in educational institutions. It may be useful to inculcate the good habit of using lesser plastic bags. Perhaps, the Good News Cafe can have a promotion whereby students who return back their plastic cups will get a stamp on their reward cards. Collect 12 stamps and you receive a free drink.
What do you think?