More and more California communities are adopting local ordinances that implement a plastic carryout bag ban. In the haste to ban plastic carryout bags, officials fail to take into consideration the costs that are passed onto residents. Not only will residents incur out-of-pocket costs to purchase bags, but depending upon the type of bag chosen, residents are required to spend personal time to manage bags and maintain bags in a sanitary condition. In the article “Plastic Bag Alternatives Much More Costly to Consumers” the authors analyze the annual cost per household of different bag alternatives and monetize the value of one’s personal time at $12 per hour (half of the California Average Labor Rate). The article costs out store supplied plastic carryout bags, self-purchased plastic carryout bags, paper bags, durable reusable bags, and cheaper reusable bags.
In a follow on article, titled “What Will A Plastic Carryout Bag Ban Cost Your Community?” the annual household costs are applied to the community as a whole to estimate the cost of carryout bags before a bag ban and after a plastic carryout bag ban. Bag use statistics from Santa Monica are used to determine percentages of the population using plastic, paper, reusable bags and no bags. An environmental student group called Team Marine at Santa Monica High School conducted observations of 50,400 grocery store patrons over a period of 19 months spanning from ten months prior to the Santa Monica Plastic Bag Ban to twelve months after.
Since plastic carryout bags represent less than 1% of roadside litter, community and county litter cleanup budgets cannot be reduced by one penny! When you consider all the money that would be spent by each jurisdiction in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties to implement a bag ban and the $35.6 million ($48.9 million Post Ban – $13.3 million Pre Ban) that area residents would have to spend annually to comply with the bag ban, and that less than 1% of roadside litter is cleaned up, it becomes obvious that the bag ban is not a wise investment, and that alternative cleanup should be pursued instead!
On my blog, there is a “Documents” menu item that when pressed will show a long list of articles on various aspects of plastic bag bans. All of these documents are Adobe Acrobat files that can be downloaded and printed. If you like my blog, be sure to press the Follow button.