March 20, 2008 | Graham

How can plastic bag consumption be up 21%?

That’s the claim from the leaked report in this (and related) news story. I can’t believe it.
Perhaps a couple of months’ consumption got counted in the wrong year. For bags used to have jumped by that you would need a number of things to happen. Population could jump by 20%, or the volujme of groceries bought could increase by 20%, or perhaps the checkout chics and register roosters at Coles and Woollies have become 20% more profligate in the way that they pack.
None of these seems likely, nor does any possible combination of them. And on top of that you have the shoppers who have invested in the reusable bags. Even if it’s only 10% of us, that should move consumption 10% in the other direction.
Since John Howard left office after spending years scaring us with non-existent weapons of mass destruction, waves of illegal immigrants careering southward, and terrorists domestic and exotic we’ve been subjected to a different sort of phantom.
This leaked study is just the latest. By the time we get to see the figures and work out how they’ve got to this completely untenable conclusion, the conclusion itself will have passed into folklore, and probably legislation, deespite the fact that the Productivity Commission recommended against banning plastic bags in a report which has been released rather than leaked.
Surely there were real good old days when this sort of things didn’t happen and there were real threats that had to be faced, not mere night frights.

Posted by Graham at 2:29 pm | Comments (3) |
Filed under: Australian Politics


  1. It’s shame that so-called conservationists have to lie to get what they want.

    Comment by Leigh — March 21, 2008 @ 8:40 am

  2. The reason the figure makes sense is because plastic bag use has declined a fair bit in the last 5 years. Retailers agreed to implement a voluntary code in an effort to reduce plastic bag use – it worked to a degree, peaking at around a 45% decline. After that peak use of plastic bags began to increase again because the retailers stopped promoting their code and because the voluntary mechanism reached its limit of effectiveness. And while I can’t speak to the figure of 21% there is no doubt that use is increasing again.

    Comment by Jeremy — March 21, 2008 @ 5:31 pm

  3. Sorry Jeremy but that doesn’t wash. Why should the fact that there has been a 45% decline make a one year increase of 21% plausible? That’s a reversal in just one year of around 50% of a five year trend.
    While you might expect some retreat from a trend line you wouldn’t expect a retreat like this. And I say “might”. Just because there is a trend, it doesn’t necessarily suggest that there will be a retreat at all.

    Comment by Graham Young — March 21, 2008 @ 8:08 pm

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