The 'Utility' Argument, Falsified
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2024-02-05 06:50 by Karl Denninger
in Environment , 278 references Ignore this thread
The 'Utility' Argument, Falsified
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This one was obvious...

"Following New Jersey’s ban of single-use bags, the shift from plastic film to alternative bags resulted in a nearly 3x increase in plastic consumption for bags," Freedonia Custom Research (FCR), a business research division for, reported in a study published this month. 

New Jersey implemented a ban on single-use plastic bags in 2022, the strictest ban on bags in the nation at the time, billing it as an effort to cut back on the plastic one-use bags piling up in landfills. 

The fallacy was that by forcing consumers to buy multi-use containers (e.g. the bags Aldi sells) under penalty of law, that they would be used more times and the "more times" would be enough to reduce consumption.

This was utterly stupid and should have been foreseen.  Consumers will use a thing until their perception of its use runs into the hassle of reuse and then it gets tossed even though it could have its life extended.

Witness cellphones.  Is the argument for not making replaceable batteries really that it forces consumers to buy new ones?  No, it really comes down to that phone you have isn't so shiny -- the screen might have a crack in it, the back is scratched up, its just not as pretty and there are two new bands that aren't in it because they weren't legal when you bought it so you buy the new one when the old one's battery is exhausted.  Since it costs money to keep batteries in stock and sell them and the connector costs money too, and consumers don't want the old phone anyway guess what -- they're all sealed today.

Do I personally think this sucks?  Yes.  But I'm N = 1 and the rest of the market says I'm wrong.  Oh well.

The same thing happened here.  New Jersey not only wound up with more pollution but in addition, and much worse, the retailers got a $200,000 additional profit stream per location, so not only did it pollute more the consumer got screwed at gunpoint.

Now let's do EVs and solar panels and "power walls" on houses...... (grab your ankles folks and, by the way, the store is out of lube.)

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Vernonb 3k posts, incept 2009-06-03
2024-02-05 07:20:37

Looks like GM and Ford will stop making EVs. How many millions if not billions have they already received from taxpayers in subsidies and research grants?

Simply another overstep by government to dictate unsound and unsustainable policies.

"Mass intelligence does not mean intelligent masses."
44dave 128 posts, incept 2021-09-16
2024-02-05 07:26:41

Tickerguy wrote..
The same thing happened here. New Jersey not only wound up with more pollution but in addition, and much worse, the retailers got a $200,000 additional profit stream per location, so not only did it pollute more the consumer got screwed at gunpoint.

The *stupid* & *lazy* consumer got screwed. I'm big on personal responsibility - let's not forget that people have agency and make choices each and every day. They *could* have brought a multi-use bag with them - they *chose* not to, and bought more. Ultimately, IT'S ON THE CUSTOMER to make good decisions, regardless of what others (i.e. the "government") says.

I have a good friend who likes to point out their upbringing really messed up his sister. Well, she's in her 40s now and fully an adult. The decisions she makes on a daily basis are hers, and she needs to own them.

Just like the customers who leave their bags at home need to OWN that the reason that the retailers got an extra 200k per year, per store, are because the vast majority of customers are LAZY and uncaring about spending a small amount of money on another bag.
Radiosity 2k posts, incept 2009-03-05
2024-02-05 08:05:08

Louis Rossmann entered the chat.

So long, and thanks for all the fish.
Lowrents 19 posts, incept 2023-02-23
2024-02-05 08:05:18

At the CityMarket(Kroger) here, the self checkout kiosk always starts with "Welcome, valued customer!" I suppose if I was truly a valued customer, I wouldn't be having to check out my own groceries and pay for any necessary bags, now would I???
Wayiwalk 1k posts, incept 2016-11-09
2024-02-05 08:05:21

Nice to see a report validatiing one outcome I expected, but it is worse than predicted (New Jersey guy who multi-used his single use plastic bags that were outlawed).

The law would have been signed by whoever the left winged totalitarian governor was when it hit the desk, but fuck Phil Murphy, he's a creep.

I keep thinking, "it can't get any worse" and then it does!

Let's Go Brandon!
Tritumi 2k posts, incept 2008-11-29
2024-02-05 08:05:43

I have replaced the battery in my old iP4S three times and still use it for podcasts.
Cmoledor 3k posts, incept 2021-04-13
2024-02-05 08:05:48

Scams and grift as far as the eye can see.

The whole world is one big fucking scam
Its a big club and we aint in it. But we damn sure pay the dues. Rangeishot
God will NOT help anyone. Prayer is only worthwhile as a boost to
Rickysa 2k posts, incept 2007-08-22
2024-02-05 08:25:35

"so not only did it pollute more the consumer got screwed at gunpoint.

Now let's do EVs and solar panels and "power walls" on houses......", and gas cans....
Neal 453 posts, incept 2014-01-09
2024-02-05 08:53:24

Here in Australia they banned single use bags a couple of years ago. The retailers obtained them from China, they were cheap and lightweight and the checkout chick would have a few hundred on a bagging frame where she would quickly fill the groceries. They were great and perfect for bagging up the kitchen waste or doggie droppings as a second use.
But the fucking greenies pushed the ban on them to save the environment. So people had to buy garbage disposal bags and poop bags as well as heavy multi use bags made in Germany at 15 cents each. Must be 10 times more plastic in them and maybe only half were reused. Plus the girl on the checkout now had to waste time putting that dirty used bag on a frame to fill it.
Then the greenies last year got those bags banned so now the supermarkets have paper bags at 25 cents each that are half the size so you need more of them. They also tear so easily from heavy cans or they turn to soggy crap from frozen goods. They also dont hold any leaking juices from trays of meat. Wonder how much extra energy is used to ship millions of them every day from Vietnam as volume wise they are at least 20 times as bulky as the original lightweight plastic bags.
Im a cheap bastard so Im just about the only person I know that reuses the bags, most just bin them as they are a pain to fold up and remember to take back to the supermarket.
Ocdawg 575 posts, incept 2019-03-14
2024-02-05 09:26:12

@ Vernonb

"Simply another Perpetual, non-stop overstep by government to dictate unsound and unsustainable policies."

Fixed it for ya!!! smileysmiley

"Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that."- George Carlin
GO DAWGS!!! Quietly reloading.....

Reason: Typo
Ndp 204 posts, incept 2021-04-21
2024-02-05 09:26:15

The *stupid* & *lazy* consumer got screwed.

I agree to an extent, but life does happen. You get a call from your spouse to pick up a list of items on your way home from work. Responding, "Sorry hon. I forgot my plastic bags today" just isn't gong to fly.

Sure, you can make a practice of having a few of the things stuffed in your trunk, but the point is that it is one more inconvenience to plan around. Some people are just chronically disorganized and will end up really screwed. Most will work around it most of the time, but since they aren't perfect planners they end up getting screwed occasionally. Still screwed, just less often.

The net effect of all that screwing is more plastic consumption, more money for the retailers, and less cash in everyone else's wallets.
Abelardlindsey 2k posts, incept 2021-03-26
2024-02-05 09:26:30

The stupid thing about banning plastic grocery sacks is that they are not actually single use. Everyone I know uses them as trash receptacle liners once they have brought their groceries in. Of course living in WA state, we also have the ban on single use plastics. So we buy the roll of plastic sacks to use as trash receptacle liners. Good job liberals! You just doubled or tripled the consumption of plastic sacks. Its a job well done!

Its all in the mitochondria.

Its the future're not.
Wagthemoondoggie 22 posts, incept 2024-01-26
2024-02-05 09:26:49

My wife has been reusing the same bags for years. Shops mainly at Aldi, we are the exception not the rule.
Winder 182 posts, incept 2016-02-15
2024-02-05 09:26:55

Havent shopped at a Kroger since they started charging you to get cash back.
Lizardqueen 5k posts, incept 2008-04-01
2024-02-05 09:49:54

Up here they banned single-use plastic bags right in the early era of Covid. That never made a lot of sense to me - all this freaking out about germs and yet now people have to bring in their old manky reusable bags covered with all sorts of household grime and food fluids and put them all over the carts and the conveyor belts.

It is now either bring your own or buy a paper one now for 10 cents a bag.

We used to get many uses out of the plastic ones, not just at the store but around the house. We'd use them as disposable dog-waste-picker-upper bags, would pick vegetables from our community garden into them (clean ones LOL), use them to bag up and give away perennials that we would dig up when I separated the clumps in the garden, we'd use them as trash can liners for the small trash cans in the house, etc.

So now we're buying dog poop bags, pots for the perennials to give away, trash can liners, and other plastic bags or buckets for the vegetables which oxidize and crack or tear after a season.
All of which are more expense to us and likely have more plastic content than the original thin store bags.

The paper ones we still get about half the time as we do grocery pickup and we reuse those around the house (paper recycling, transporting things to friends houses, home sorting/storage) until they fall apart at which time we recycle them.

IMO this whole bag thing was another feel-good law that the makers never really analyzed closely.

This all reminds me of the electric vs ICE car analysis I read about a while back. I can't remember where I saw it but someone did a breakdown of the most environmentally friendly car when you considered the battery mineral mining and manufacturing, electricity generation and ALL the resources involved with building and operating a modern car.

The most environmentally friendly one was : ta-da : a Toyota Corolla with an ordinary internal combustion engine.

But electric cars FEEEEEEEL better, right? Great, so you can have warm fuzzy feelings and virtue-signal to your friends and neighbors while you drive your polluting "green" vehicle powered by coal-generated electricity that uses consumable batteries made out of minerals mined in hostile countries by slave labor.


"The closer you get to the drain, the faster you spin."
---some rando on ZeroHedge
Jdough 304 posts, incept 2012-05-04
2024-02-05 10:01:06

My city, Austin, tried this for a couple of years before the state stepped in and got rid of it. What made it even more of a farce was the timing of the bag ban coincided with the allowing of "camping" everywhere, AKA, insane vagrants putting up tents and taking a shit on the sidewalk which totally trashed the city far more than the few people who were irresponsible with the single use bags ever could. This is all part of the loonies war on normal people, whom they either despise or think need to have their lives micromanaged to not throw trash and motor oil in the river.

There is still one major grocer here that has kept up the bag ban for some reason despite not being required to. The way I deal with that is first to try and avoid their stores as much as possible but if I go and forget a bag I simply grab one of their "permanent" bags they sell near the front door and pretend I brought it with me.

Explain it to me like I took an experimental genetic therapy for a donut - Anonymous
Ewtnewbie2 338 posts, incept 2021-09-13
2024-02-05 10:12:18

The Law of Unintended Consequences is strong in this country. We lost critical thinking a few decades back and the outcomes on a daily basis are starting to pile up on the Freeway of Life. We are Rome and the City is burning. The only question is when is the impending collapse going to commence. They tend to be put off for as long as possible, so I'm hoping to live the back third of my life without a calamity, but it sure looks scary when you can actually SEE what is happening rather than just living in it and ignoring the cracks in civilization.
Speedpolkabrewer 155 posts, incept 2019-05-12
2024-02-05 10:45:13

Of course Colorado is all in on banning bags. I put my purchased groceries back in the cart or basket, then out to my truck.

Problem is those carts are starting to pile up in the yard.

But seriously, I haven't used a bag for groceries in years. I don't need the single use or reusable. So I get a few more steps & it takes 2 minutes longer to bring in the groceries. So what. I have the time.
K5555 208 posts, incept 2021-04-18
2024-02-05 11:33:00

A lot of single use items came into being not because people hate the planet, but because they are much more sanitary and stop the spread of germs.
A researcher at Loma Linda University Health found that almost all reusable grocery bags carry bacteria in them. And, 10 percent of the reusable bags he collected from shoppers contained E. Coli, a fecal bacteria that can make us sick.
Think about that as your cashier plops all the other customers' bags before yours on the checkout station, potentially infecting yours...1 of 10 have poop on them, and I bet far more than 10 customers were seen before you.

It is also about control. Control (death) by a thousand paper cuts.

Fight like you are the third monkey on the ramp to Noah's Ark and it is starting to rain.
T2 729 posts, incept 2008-11-17
2024-02-05 11:33:19

The only reason we have plastic bags was because the tree huggers back in the 80s were convinced we were cutting down all the trees to put stuff in paper bags, so they switched to non biodegradable plastic thinking problem solved. Then the plastic bags started piling up in landfills and city streets so of course, now lets ban plastic. So what do you put your groceries in now? Reusable bags of course! So we all got used to the idea of bringing our reusable bags to store, and the system actually kinda worked until the scamdemic happened. The grocery store workers werent allowed to touch the bags, because germs. So they started using plastic again, which for some reason the baggers prefer over paper, dont know why, theyll even ask is plastic ok? Its like theyre pushing plastic over paper if you dont have your own bag. But now they dont even have baggers anymore. You just bag your own into your own reusable bag, and now the trend is self checkout. Theres a dozen check out lanes but only one or two actually have a checker, the rest are closed. Check yourself out and bag your own stuff. Oh and everything costs considerably more than it did before all this nonsense started. Progress!


In California, no one can hear you scream.
Poorsaver 545 posts, incept 2008-05-20
2024-02-05 11:33:51

I have replaced the battery twice in my iPhone 7. DIY cost around $20 each time. Phone still works great. Dont really see much added utility in the newest model, 8 generations later.

"I'm going to need a hacksaw"----Jack Bauer
"You can get killed walking your doggie!"----Vincent Hanna
Lenguado 3k posts, incept 2010-01-12
2024-02-05 11:33:58

You aren't "N = 1". More like, at least N = 2.

I'd still be using my beloved Pantech 'Blackberry wanna be' phone, except that AT&T killed 3G and FORCED me to another phone (Now a Kyocera 4G "flip" phone). That Pantech had a replaceable battery and tactile keys; phone and text. None of the fancy tracking app crap.....

Yeah, progress my behind.


"War is when your government tells you who the enemy is. A revolution is when you figure it out yourself." --Unknown
"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevita
Boredfree 2k posts, incept 2021-09-15
2024-02-05 11:34:11

The hand baskets used for shopping are a great way to carry groceries home.

They aren't single use either. They are great for bringing wood into the house.

The problem is most people want to point a finger rather than their thumb when dealing with challenges.
Gonewest 5k posts, incept 2015-02-26
2024-02-05 12:32:48

Stick-it-Inslee, our lovely governor in WA state who doesn't have two brain cells to rub together, signed a plastic bag ban into place years ago and charged 5 cents for paper bag. Trader Joe's, who always used free paper bags, also had to start charging for bags. But that wasn't good enough. Then we had to get the thicker, reuse plastic bags and the fee went to 8 cents. (Almost) doubling down on nonsense. Now, if you shop at Walmart you can't even purchase the 8 cent bags; it's $1 reusables or nothing.

But the bigger issue for me is, look what goes into those reusable plastic bags. Plastic containers galore! So when you compare the amount of plastic in a few bags to what you're goods are actually contained in and wrapped in you are only solving a small part of the problem. In the computer field this is Amdahl's law; an improvement's benefit is limited by the relative size of the thing your improving to the whole system. Plastic bags are only a very small part of the plastic trash used by the consumer.

Banning plastic bags is silly and leads to the unintended consequences we're seeing.

But it's good politics as it virtue signals to the left and is welcomed by vendors as it removes an overhead cost from their bottom line.

Thank goodness they didn't ban the plastic container lube comes in; we all need it.

Socialism is and will always be theft from future generations.
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