Paul L. Caron

Monday, January 28, 2013

Anderson: Plastic Grocery Bag Bans and the $87,500 Seagull

Rob Anderson Plastic Bags(Pepperdine), Law Profs Bag $87,500 Seagull:

Law professors Jonathan Klick (U Penn Law) and Joshua D. Wright (George Mason Law) have posted a paper, Grocery Bag Bans and Foodborne Illness, that has been making the rounds in the news and blogs in the last few days. The paper argues that the bans on plastic bags in San Francisco and other California cities have caused a spike in the rate of illness and death from foodborne illnesses such as E. Coli and salmonella.

Cities banned plastic bags in response to claims that the bags increase the costs of waste disposal and harm marine animals. But according to the article, the bag bans have exacted a serious human toll; after San Francisco's enactment of the first major plastic bag ban in 2007 the number of emergency room visits and deaths related to foodborne illness increased sharply. According to the article, the reason may be that consumers rarely wash the bags, mixing residues from raw meat, vegetables, and other items together over time creating a Petri dish of bacteria in which food items marinate. ...

The law profs' study has attracted some significant coverage in the last few days, but the major outlets seem to have overlooked the most astounding calculation from the paper, perhaps because one would need to read the paper to find it. The authors estimate that the additional deaths from the plastic bag ban value each saved animal at $87,500. ...

The plastic bag ban is but one of thousands of examples of regulatory zeal gone awry in California. As I have argued before, California's inability to consider the costs of regulation is turning the state's economy into a rustbelt economy.

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I could have told you that without a study. Heh

Posted by: gregger | Jan 29, 2013 9:17:56 AM