A Survey on the Economic Effects of Los Angeles County’s Plastic Bag Ban

Policy Reports | Energy and Natural Resources

No. 340
Thursday, August 16, 2012
by Pamela Villarreal and Baruch Feigenbaum


Grocers and other retailers nationwide pack consumers’ purchases in plastic bags. However, a growing number of jurisdictions — including Los Angeles County, and cities such as Austin and Seattle — have banned the use of thin-film plastic bags. Other local governments, such as the Washington, D.C. city council, have implemented a per-bag tax.

This study reports the results of a new survey conducted by the National Center for Policy Analysis regarding the plastic bag ban recently implemented in Los Angeles County. It also examines the economic, environmental and health effects of bag bans and analyzes their potential costs and benefits.1   

Banning plastic bags causes significant economic harm. Proponents of plastic bag bans primarily argue that such bans reduce the amount of waste entering landfills, lessen litter problems, help protect the environment and reduce petroleum consumption. However, none of these claims is supported by facts. Banning plastic bans is harmful to local economies and is not environmentally justified.

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