Plastic bag bans: good for norovirus, E. coli & shoplifting!

Reusable grocery bag_thb

by NW Spotlight

Some communities are instituting bans on plastic bags as a way to encourage the use of reusable grocery bags. In addition to a risk of spreading a norovirus or E. coli, it now seems reusable grocery bags also increase the risk of shoplifting.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer is reporting today that store owners are complaining that the plastic bag ban is causing more shoplifting – “contributing to thousands of dollars in losses for at least one Seattle grocery store.” The same store also reported a “dramatic increase in the number of hand baskets stolen after Seattle’s plastic bag ban was initiated.”

Regarding the health risk with reusable grocery bags, a 2012 report by OHSU & the Oregon Public Health Division in the Journal of Infectious Diseases on a norovirus incident noted “this also illustrates one of the less obvious hazards of reusable grocery bags.”

In San Francisco, which has had a plastic bag ban since 2007, a study of emergency room data found “a spike in the number of E. coli cases and an increase of deaths from foodborne illnesses” after their bag ban began.

As was noted in a March 2012 Oregon Catalyst article, plastic bags are 100% recyclable and are made in the U.S., using domestic natural gas and they support American jobs. On the down side, though, plastic bags are not good for spreading norovirus or E. coli and they’re not as good for shoplifting…