Fees, charges, levies, and taxes provide a market-based approach to regulating plastic bags and encouraging consumers to transition to reusables.

For both this and the hybrid approach, be aware that the legal definitions of ‘fee’, ‘charge’, ‘levy’, and ‘tax’ can vary greatly between geographies.  Also, there can be legal implications for the term used, usually dependent on where the money goes.

In this approach, mandatory charges are placed on single-use plastic bags, paper bags, reusable bags, or some combination of the three. A mandatory charge on plastic bags, at minimum, provides consumers with a visible price for a bag. In essence, this is a ‘ban on free plastic bags.’ Charging for bags can disincentivize consumers from using single-use bags and encourage them to either bring their own reusable bags or not use a bag at all. Charging for a new single-use bag is more effective than a discount or credit for bringing your own reusable bag.



– Charging for thin plastic but not paper or thicker plastic bags can detract from the switch to reusables and result in increased use of the type of bag given away for free.

– Set charges high enough to change consumer behavior and sustain that change.