June 5, 2019

U.S. Lags in Plastic Bag Regulation, Report Finds

News Source: Philanthropy News Digest

Although plastic bags are banned or taxed in fifty countries, only two states in the U.S. have imposed a ban on them and only four have mandatory plastic bag recycling or reuse programs in place, a study from finds.

Based on information from the National Conference of State Legislatures as well as state- and country-level reports, the study, Where Are Plastic Bags Banned Around the World, reveals that at least thirty-two countries, nearly half of them in Africa, have plastic bans in place, while an additional eighteen countries have put a tax on them. In the U.S., in contrast, ten states — Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, and Wisconsin — have passed laws against the regulation of plastic bags. Only California and Hawaii have passed plastic bag bans, while Delaware, Rhode Island, Maine, and New York all have mandatory recycling or reuse programs in place.

At the municipal level, two hundred city governments have banned or tax plastic bags, with generally positive results. In 2012, San Jose, California, put a ban in place that led to reductions in the number of plastic bags in storm drains (89 percent), rivers (60 percent), and residential areas (59 percent), while San Francisco enacted a ban in 2007 that has reduced the city's plastic processing fees by up to $600,000 annually, and Seattle has reduced the number of plastic bags in both residential (48 percent) and commercial (76 percent) waste. Elsewhere, China adopted a full ban in 2008, resulting in reductions in plastic waste of up to 80 percent, or approximately forty billion bags, while a 22-cent plastic bag tax in Ireland has reduced their use by as much as 90 percent.

According to the report, approximately five hundred billion single-use plastic bags are used each year, while only a fraction, less than 3 percent, are recycled.

(Photo credit:

"Which States and Countries Have Plastic Bag Bans." Press Release 06/03/2019.