Durham Considers ‘Environmental Sin Tax’ on Plastic Bags

DURHAM – In yet another Carolina city’s best impression of San Francisco, Durham is considering placing a special tax on plastic bags to save the environment. It would be 10 cents for every bag customers use at retail stores and it is spearheaded by a grassroots environmental group that wants “solutions that prevent trash.”

Except such special fees may actually prevent the full exercise of the U.S. Constitution.

From Carolina Journal:

“Andy Ellen, president and general counsel for the N.C. Retail Merchants Association, says the fee is akin to a tax, and he points to a constitutional provision giving the General Assembly — not local governments — sole authority to levy taxes.

Ellen adds that while retailers in the state aim for environmental friendliness, bag restrictions complicate things for consumers.

“At the end of the day, retailers have adopted many of the sustainability goals and are trying to be as environmentally friendly as possible,” Ellen said. “And they encourage people to recycle bags and bring in reusable bags, but we ultimately know we’re going to do what the customer asks us to do.” […]”

Similar plastic bag bans or fees have been put in place in other areas of the state, notably the coast, and were struck down by the General Assembly. Environmentalists would love to just enact a ban or tax on the entire state. However good it may make them feel to be authoritarian on behalf of Mother Earth, the assaults on plastic bags don’t even work in the end.

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“[…] Banning plastic bags, or charging for them, simply doesn’t work, says Jon Sanders, director of regulatory studies at the John Locke Foundation

For one thing, people don’t necessarily throw away their “single use” plastic bags after the first use. People use them for garbage or dog waste. With a prohibitive fee or ban, people have to buy more store-bought garbage bags, which are usually made of thicker plastic and are more harmful to the environment. 

Reusable cloth bags also come with their own problems, Sanders said. A Danish study shows it would take 7,100 reuses of a regular cotton bag to exceed the environmental impact of a single plastic bag reuse. […]”

As with most eco-friendly diktats, the measure is completely ineffective except for gratifying the Left’s need to control others and inherently resent the success of our species.

Read more about the movement to ban plastic bags, and the silliness of it all, here.

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