Monthly Archives: September 2013

Bag Bans: Wrong Way to Control Litter

Bag Bans are the wrong solution to control litter from plastic grocery bags.  Many communities are driven to ban these bags because they are a very visible form of litter.  But is banning these bags the right solution?  I don’t think so, and neither should you!

Plastic bags of all kinds make up only about 0.6% of litter.  So a ban on plastic grocery bags would at most eliminate no more than 0.6% of litter.  The other 99.4% is still out there waiting to be cleaned up!

All carryout bags have a negative environmental impact.  Paper bags and reusable bags have a higher negative environmental impact and larger carbon footprint than plastic bags.  In fact, 10 out of 14 environmental indicators go up after a bag ban is implemented, meaning a bag ban is a bad idea from an environmental perspective.

For more information see: Bag Bans Wrong Way To Control Litter.

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Reusable Bag Recycling Rate Lower Than Plastic Bags

The majority of reusable bags currently in use in California are made from non-woven Polypropylene (PP) or fabrics such as cotton.  While PP is technically recyclable, currently there is no recycling infrastructure for PP bags in the state of California.  Furthermore, although cotton bags are technically compostable, there is no composting facility currently available.  Hence, both PP and cotton reusable bags must be disposed of in the trash or landfill.

A very small percentage (much less than 5%) of reusable bags are made from High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) or Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE).  These bags are recyclable via the In-Store Recycling Bin at your local retail store.

Environmentalists like to say that the recycling rate for plastic grocery bags is only 5% and therefore they should be banned.  But the recycling rate for reusable bags is closer to 0%.  Should they not be banned?