The 1967 movie The Graduate, Dustin Hoffman's debut movie is now a classic. Who can forget the one word advice given to Hoffman's character Benjamin Braddock, "One word, Plastic. Think about it Plastic" Well, I don't think the world thought about it very carefully. Now we can't get rid of the stuff. The latest revelation is that tiny plastic particles are in the air we breathe, not only city air, but the air in such pristine places as our national parks [see reference to this below]. And of course for everyone to see, it is in our lakes and rivers and oceans. It gets ingested by the fish we eat. We simply can't get rid of the stuff.
"Plastic is a classic example of what economists call external costs, i.e. costs not born by the producers of the plastic products that they sell and hence are not costs that are not covered by the prices that these products sell for. Because these product prices are lower than they would be if the costs of reducing the amount of plastic in the environment was included in those prices we consumers buy more plastic products than otherwise would. Lower prices lead to higher quantity demand in the market place.
I say tax plastic and tax it high enough to cover costs of reducing the amount of it in our environment. Maybe we should even tax the hell out of it. Think of all those products you buy that are packaged in plastic. At higher prices for plastic we would surely get to see alternative packaging for many of these products. And let's get rid of these plastic bags at the super market. Back to paper bags. We did it in the 1950s when I was a bagger at a supermarket. We can do it in 2020.