Plastic bag tax

National’s resident greenie, Dr Nick Smith, is considering a tax on plastic bags because, in his personal opinion, “New Zealanders were over-using plastic shopping bags”. We’ve lived in Ireland with such a tax, so here is a brief summary of the good and the bad:

The Good:

  • Reusable bags don’t break. They are much nicer to use than disposable ones.

The Bad:

  • You use disposable plastic bags for all sorts of things – lining rubbish bins for example. When you don’t get them from the supermarket you are forever running out of them, and have to buy plastic bin liners – defeating the environmental purpose of the tax.
  • Reusable bags are bulky.
  • You often forget to take enough reusable bags with you, and have to either buy more reusable bags or disposable ones. So in practice you waste money one way or another.
  • Most reusable bags are plastic. It must take a lot of resources to make one, so you would have to replace a large number of disposables with one reusable to make it worthwhile. In practice they only have a limited life before they get lost or have something disgusting spilt through them, so you don’t actually replace as many disposables as you would expect with each reusable bag. The environmental benefit is therefore questionable.
  • The main winners are the supermarkets. They sell more reusable bags (with their own logos on). They sell plastic bin liners as people aren’t recycling disposable plastic bags as bin liners. And in Dr Smith’s plan, they might even get the plastic bag levy itself. Expect the supermarkets to support this plan, but not for environmental reasons.

So I can only think of one advantage – reusable bags are strong and good to use. There is nothing to stop you using reusable bags now for this reason, and many people already do (for example MacDoctor).

It is highly debatable whether there is any environmental benefit from this whatsoever. Plastic bags are a minute fraction of NZ’s waste (0.2% according to the Dominion Post), much of which will currently be recycled supermarket bags containing rubbish. Most of these will be replaced by new plastic bin liners if this law goes through – in other words, there will be less recycling, and plastic bags will still be about the same amount of NZ’s waste, just more expensive.

Fortunately we have a far more sensible Prime Minister:

Mr Key said there was no way he was going to support a charge that was in effect a tax going into the coffers of supermarkets. “My preference is to find a voluntary and industry-led solution,” he said.”I’ve made that very clear to the minister.”

Asked whether he would preferred to have known in advance about both issues, he replied: “I think it would be more useful if I found out about things before I read about them in the newspaper.”

Good on you Mr Key!

Other comments around the blogs:
MacDoctor: Fantastic Plastic
Madeleine: Blue is the New Green: National’s Bag Tax
Homepaddock: Bin that idea, Nick
Not PC: Nanny Nick taxes bags
Whale Oil: More on Bags

Advertisements

Child dropped from bridge – blame politicians

A man has dropped his 4 year old daughter to her death from a bridge in Australia. So who do people blame?

The roading authorities. Because there weren’t any safety barriers stopping him.

That is ridiculous. If someone is wicked enough to want to kill their daughter, they’ll figure out a way to do it. If there are barriers on that bridge they’ll just do it somewhere else. You can’t expect the government to prevent every problem. Why do people have to find someone other than the perpetrator to blame whenever something like this happens?

No, this girl died because her father is a sick idiot. That is all.

Children forced into adoption by gay couple

Two young children are to be adopted by a gay couple, despite the protests of their grandparents.

The devastated grandparents were told they would never see the youngsters again unless they dropped their opposition.

Right, this is completely wrong on so many levels. Certainly I don’t like the idea of gay adoption. But the biggest issue is

Why is the State dictating who raises the children at all?

This should be the decision of their family. The State has no business taking children away from a loving family, full stop.

KG at Crusader Rabbit asks “Time for insurrection?“. I don’t know if they are serious or not. But taking people’s children away is serious business, and some otherwise law-abiding people will feel forced into violence to protect them, especially in the heat of the moment. Policies like this could certainly lead to civil unrest, if not armed revolt. Hopefully our government can have the sense to step back and not provoke people into that.

Guy Fawkes

You only have from the 2nd of November (this Sunday) to the 5th of November (next Wednesday) to stock up on fireworks for the next year. Don’t miss out, especially if you want fireworks for election night. And considering the laws are getting more restrictive each year, it probably isn’t a bad idea to keep a few in reserve in case they are illegal next year (while voting for people who will oppose this nanny statism of course!).

And you can’t buy sparklers now except as part of a pack (I bet the retailers will love that, they get to sell more packs of fireworks just because some idiot burnt a hut down with a sparkler a year or so ago).

Isn’t nanny state going crazy, when you have only four days of the year you can buy fireworks. So everyone has to stockpile fireworks then, and have dangerous boxes of gunpowder lying round the house if they think they might want to use fireworks at another stage.

If you can’t afford to buy a pack to get sparklers for your kids, I really don’t recommend that you go to this link and make your own, it could be highly dangerous and possibly illegal, but it is interesting to read how simple it is. If you want to read how other people make fireworks, without actually doing such a dangerous thing yourself, you may do so here.

Does anyone know what the law is around making your own fireworks? The point I am making is that instructions are so readily available on the net that the more retail fireworks are restricted the more people will actually follow the internet instructions, think “what if we put just a bit more of this in”, and do some serious damage.

Hat tip: Not PC