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E-M:/ RE: / ban on plastic grocery bags --- Take a tip from Denmark and the EU


Take a Tip from Denmark


Earlier this month I returned from my fourth trip to Denmark.  The Danes, and most other Europeans, would not think of going to the grocery store without bringing along a reusable fabric tote bag in which to carry their purchases home.  


Plastic or paper bags are not provided free with every purchase.  If one needs a bag, they are available in the check out lane for purchase.  A medium-sized, heavy duty, reusable plastic bag costs two Danish Krone (about 35 cents at the current exchange rate).  Very few of these are sold as most folks are very environmentally aware and are in the habit of bringing bags with them when they come in to shop.  Also the "free market" system of charging a fee for each bag encourages conservation and reuse.  The same is true at hardware stores, drug stores, etc.  The 25% VAT tax on the bags that are sold goes to support recycling centers.


It could work here.  Simple solution.


Publications on a variety of environmental policies and their effectiveness in the European Union can be found at the European Environmental Agency (EEA) website.  Link to the English language version of their website is here:




The EEA is headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark near Nyhaun.  A brief review of their publications will provide examples of many working, sustainable policies on conservation of natural resources, energy, recycling, transportation systems, agriculture, etc.  They are decades ahead of us. 


Denmark, about half the size of Michigan with about half the population (4.5 million) is energy self-sufficient due in large part to wind power.  CAFO excrement is treated the same as human sewage in secondary WWTPs.  Gasoline is $2/liter with 80% of the fuel tax supporting public transportation systems (the rest is for road maintenance).  They have the highest standard of living in Europe (including universal health care), and some of the highest tax rates.  The economy is booming.  Compare that to the diminishing quality of life in Michigan, due at least in part to our low taxes and structural budget deficits.  Food for thought.





-----Original Message-----
From: owner-enviro-mich@great-lakes.net [mailto:owner-enviro-mich@great-lakes.net] On Behalf Of Anna Dorothy Graham
Sent: Wednesday, March 28, 2007 8:25 AM
To: enviro-mich@great-lakes.net
Subject: E-M:/ ban on plastic grocery bags



Enviro-Mich message from "Anna Dorothy Graham" <grahama9@msu.edu>



Wouldn't this be nice to see in Michigan?  From CNN:



SAN FRANCISCO, California (Reuters) -- San Francisco's Board of Supervisors

voted Tuesday to become the first U.S. city to ban plastic bags from large

supermarkets to help promote recycling.


Under the legislation, beginning in six months large supermarkets and

drugstores will not be allowed to offer plastic bags made from petroleum



"Many [foreign] cities and nations have already implemented very similar

legislation," said Ross Mirkarimi, the city legislator who championed the

new law. "It's astounding that San Francisco would be the first U.S. city to

follow suit."


"I am hopeful that other U.S. cities will also adopt similar legislation,"

he said. "Why wait for the federal government to enact legislation that gets

to the core of this problem when local governments can just step up to the



The city's Department of the Environment said San Francisco uses 181 million

plastic grocery bags annually. Plans dating back a decade to encourage

recycling of the bags have largely failed, with shoppers returning just one

percent of bags, said department spokesman Mark Westland.


Mirkarimi said the ban would save 450,000 gallons of oil a year and remove

the need to send 1,400 tons of debris now sent annually to landfills. The

new rules would, however, allow recyclable plastic bags, which are not

widely used today.


A spokesman for San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who must approve or veto

the legislation, called it sensible. "Chances are good that he is going to

sign it," said Nathan Ballard.



Anna Kirkwood Graham, J.D., Ph.D.

"There is no trifling with nature; it is always true, grave and severe; it

is always in the right, and the faults and errors fall to our share."

 -- Goethe




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