Environmental progress often dubbed “job killers”

It’s been my observation that whenever decisive action is taken that would benefit the environment, the scream goes up that taking such steps will surely mean the death of jobs in that area or region.

Case in point.

Last week the Toronto (Canada) City Council voted to ban the use of plastic bags. Originally the city’s mayor had asked the council to rescind the 5-cent tax on plastic bags – and they did. But a last-minute surprise move saw the council vote to ban the bags outright, which would take effect next January 1st.

The ban – supported by a 27 to 17 vote – calls for the city “to prohibit all City of Toronto retail stores from providing customers with single-use plastic carryout (shopping) bags, including those advertised as compostable, biodegradable, photodegradable or similar.”

In typical reactionary fashion, Marion Axmith, a spokeswoman for the Canadian Plastics Industry Association, warned that the move would kill jobs in Toronto and said the industry would consider all its options.

Serious environmental hazards, even the European Commission is considering banning plastic bags

The number of cities and countries that have imposed bans or taxes on single-use plastic bags is steadily growing. To date, over 40 US cities and countries including India, Ireland and Burma have banned then. Even the European Commission is considering doing so. And the “expected” fallout of lost jobs has yet to be seen on the large scale that naysayers have decried.

So perhaps it’s simply the manufacturers, who don’t want to lose revenue and marketshare, who are doing all the screaming. Retailers settle in fairly quickly once a plastic ban is in place, filling consumers needs by selling or offering reusable cloth bags instead. And consumers are beginning to get used to bringing their own bags in when they shop.

Banning plastic bags as job killers? Really? As Jerry Maguire said, “show me the money!”


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