How Green Is that Grocery Bag Ban? An Assessment of the Environmental and Economic Effects of Grocery Bag Bans and Taxes
by Julian Morris, Brian Seasholes
June 23, 2014
Hundreds of municipalities have banned High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) plastic bags, to the detriment of the environment and consumers. Bans, fees and taxes on shopping bags have a miniscule effect on litter. There is no evidence of a reduction in municipal litter or waste collection costs as a result of the introduction of these policies. Other environmental impacts are not significantly reduced and some, including greenhouse gas emissions, may increase as a result especially of restrictions on the use of plastic (HDPE) shopping bags. There is likely an adverse health effect from people failing to wash bacteria-ridden reusable bags, the use of which may increase as a result of restrictions on the distribution of other bag types. Reusable bags are ultimately more costly for consumers, and the costs of plastic bag bans fall disproportionately on the poor.