Andy Ellen: Bad for business

July 9, 2014 

In response to your July 7 editorial “ Raleigh should ban plastic bags,” I would like to make several points on behalf of retailers statewide.

First, many retailers have recycling and customer programs such as branded reusable bags to urge customers to reduce the use of plastic bags. Second, the City of Raleigh does not have the authority to ban plastic bags or charge a fee as it would violate the N.C. Constitution provision against regulating trade on a local level. Third, an NC DENR study demonstrated that the Outer Banks plastic bag ban has not been as successful as proponents claim (no reduction in bags found on beaches and rising retail costs that are passed on to consumers).

There is no perfect solution, but mandating a ban is not the answer. Even the so-called solutions have their downsides. Case in point: Reusable bags when not washed properly breed harmful bacteria. Additionally, making paper bags vs. plastic creates 70 percent more air pollution and producing paper bags vs. plastic consumes four times more energy.

On behalf of North Carolina’s retail industry that employs 1 in 4 in our state, it is not good public policy to punish businesses that provide plastic bags to carry goods for customers.

Andy Ellen

President, N.C. Retail Merchants Association


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