When you bring stuff home, what do you do with all the plastic bags it was packed in?

Do you cram them in the trash (probably into a bigger plastic bag) or do you stash them away for next time you need to carry something? Maybe keep them near the door to grab when you walk the dog and need to clean up after him. Or maybe you are one of those environmentally-conscious folks who saves them for the recycling box in the supermarket lobby.

No matter, really, because lawyers who draft bills and ordinances for government consider them all to be "single-use plastic bags."

Manufacturers disagree, of course, arguing they are 100 percent reusable and recyclable and claiming nine out of ten Americans reuse plastic bags at least once for everything from storage to waste disposal to packing materials.

What to do about them has been discussed at just about every level of government for years. Some municipalities and counties have decided to ban such bags outright or charge fees for use, while representatives of higher levels of government can't decide between environmentalists and bag manufacturers.

New Jersey almost enacted a ban earlier this summer, but plans fell victim to overreach by many groups.

The Food Council grumbled about the five cent fee but finally said okay. The Sierra Club fought for an outright ban. New Jersey Audubon and the League of Conservation Voters wanted a ten-cent-a-bag fee. Grocers demanded a share of any fees, and then arguments shifted to whether the estimated $20 million fee revenue could go into the general fund or must be used exclusively for environmental purposes.


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