I almost never remember to bring my own bags into the grocery stores of South Portland, Maine. That city, as well as Portland across the harbor, wanted to ban all disposable plastic bags. Instead their city councils enacted a five cent fee for paper or plastic bags that used to be free. At Shaw’s I could pay ten cents for a reusable plastic bag but I have a dozen of them folded up and bulging out of the inside door compartments of my car. Do I remember to bring them into the store though? Hardly ever, so that means I have to buy still more at the checkout rather than hold up the line by going out to my car and retrieving a couple from my growing collection. In North Conway, NH where I do most of my food shopping at the Shaw’s and Hannaford stores there, bags are still free.
So who benefits? Well, the stores do because they get paid five cents each for bags they used to give away. Greenie city councilors do because they can pose as environmental champions, saviors of ocean creatures who they claim would die from ingesting discarded bags. Greenie citizens do because, when they dutifully carry their reusable bags into the store, they feel like they’re doing their bit to save the planet from evil corporatist, Republicans who all want to poison the environment as well as the people in it. Freeport and other coastal Maine municipalities are considering similar bag ordinances and it’s coming soon to stores near you too.
Have these ordinances been effectively saving ocean creatures? It’s too early to tell. Even though I find them annoying, they’re likely to spread widely in progressive areas. Here’s a clue: according to a National Review Online article I read last week: “A professor at Santa Monica College took a group of students on an ‘EcoSexual Sextravaganza’ trip earlier this month, during which they ‘married the ocean’ and were encouraged to ‘consummate’ that marriage.” There were pictures of blushing brides holding flowers as they waded into the ocean for “consummation.” Given this level of green weenie eco-sexual passion, it’s inevitable.
I don’t return cans and bottles to Maine redemption centers either. It’s just not worth the trip. Like everyone else, I have to pay five cents for the containers my beer and soft drinks come in, and fifteen cents for the bottles in which my wine comes. When I go to the dump in Lovell, Maine where I live — excuse me, I mean when I go to Lovell’s solid waste recycling center — I put the five-cent cans and bottles in the barrels provided. Attendants redeem the beer cans and beer bottles, but they grind up the fifteen-cent wine bottles in the glass-crushing machine because it isn’t worth it for the town to retrieve the deposit.
New Hampshire has no bottle deposit law either, but most states around the region do, so NH stores sell bottles and cans all imprinted with other states’ deposit laws, but do not collect any deposit money. So, if Maine residents like me buy beer in New Hampshire, we might collect five cents per can/bottle in Maine. But, you would violate laws enacted by Maine’s greenie, world-saving voters who seem to comprise the majority, though I don’t see how they can be enforced.
Glass bottles and aluminum cans don’t pollute the environment when people throw them away, but they’re a kind of visual pollution. My wife periodically picks them up beside our country road and lugs them home for me to take to the dump — I mean the solid waste recycling center. She doesn’t do it for the money, she’s just obsessive that way. Clearly Maine’s deposit law is not preventing litter as intended.
So who benefits from bottle laws? Well, the state is the primary beneficiary because it gets the money from stores selling the containers. How much money? We don’t know. A study commissioned in 2007 verified that we don't know. It did determine that in 2002 about 750,000,000 bottles were sold and the state collected between five and fifteen cents on each. How many were redeemed? We don’t know, because only about 19% of the surveys sent to stores and redemption centers were returned.
From this writer’s perspective, Maine’s bottle law is a bother. Are Maine’s highways cleaner than New Hampshire’s? Not that I can see. The law has been in effect since 1978 and it’s not likely to be repealed whether it’s effective or not. It’s another source of revenue
for government-loving Greenies who are ever looking to make the rest of us adhere to the roadmap of their never-ending journey to big-government utopia.
Labels: government, Green weenies, liberal pieties, Portland, South Portland