State Lawmakers and environmentalists who propose a statewide plastic carryout bag bans, like so many officials in communities that have implemented such bans, most often fail to take into consideration the economics of a bag ban and the increased costs to residents. Not only will residents incur out-of-pocket costs to purchase bags, but depending upon the type of bag chosen, personal time will be required 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 including the out-of-pocket cost to purchase bags, but also the value of one’s personal time at $12 per hour or about 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 “Statewide Bag Ban Would Cost Residents More Than $1 Billion!” the annual household costs are applied to California Counties and the state 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.
The article includes all assumptions and identifies the formulas used to calculate the Pre Ban and Post Ban costs. The bottom line is that a statewide ban would cost residents more than a billion dollars or about 12 cents to eliminate each 2-cent plastic carryout bag. A poor use of money!