By Angela Guss | 04 December 2010, 21:49 BST
Recently on my walk home from work, I stopped in the little convenience store next to my apartment to pick up some milk. The shop owner, who knows me from my frequent pop ins, asked if I wanted a bag.
I appreciated him asking and declined, since I was just going around the corner. He then told me about Baltimore City's new plastic bag reduction program.
As a participant, he is required to post signs advertising reusable bags and start stocking them for purchase, provide bins for recycling, and track statistics on bags used and reusable ones sold.
Over the past few years, plastic bags have drawn a lot of attention from all those concerned about our impact on the environment.
Just the other day, research from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden was released showing that people in China - the number one consumers of plastic bags - reduced their consumption of plastic bags by half when stores were forced to charge consumers for the bags.
Prior to this ordinance, subjects used an average of 21 new plastic bags per week and rarely used the same bag twice.
Following the implementation of the ordinance, consumption of bags was reduced by 49 percent and almost half of them were reused.
"Our results show that this is an effective policy instrument that can be used to benefit the environment. But we also found that there is further room for improvement," said Haoran He, a doctoral candidate who studied the effect of this Chinese ordinance as part of his thesis in environmental and behavioral economics.
"What's most important is to make sure that the ordinance is complied with."
Store owners are able to price their plastic bags and then keep the profit. But after four months of implementation, 60 percent of all plastic bags were still given away at no charge, according to He...
"One alternative would be for the government to price the shopping bags, convert the fee to a tax and then use the revenues to finance various environmental measures."
In his thesis, he refers to other countries that have implemented similar regulations, such as Ireland and South Africa.
"A general reflection based on studies in several countries is that if a country wants to reduce the consumption of plastic bags in the long term, it seems like repeated public information campaigns on environmental problems linked to plastic bags are very important."
Until Next Time,
Source: Green Chip Stocks