Any bag regulation should ideally be based on legitimate data and tailored to address issues raised by the data. Regulators and advocates are well-advised to provide data on the extent to which plastic bags impact the relevant geographic area both environmentally and financially.

In many parts of the world, when a project or policy that might have an impact on the environment is proposed, an assessment of potential environmental impacts is required. In the USA, this is referred to as an Environmental Impact Statement/Report (EIS/EIR).

Seek environmental impact and financial data, such as the costs of plastic bags – associated with:

  • Cleanup and management of litter (street sweeping, garbage management, manual collection, hauling data)
  • Number of bags currently being distributed at local stores
  • Storm-drain maintenance (clogging and cleanout of storm drains, infrastructure costs, operations and maintenance by local government)
  • Flooding (litter causing flooding and associated costs)
  • Waste management infrastructure (plastic bags jam recycling machinery)
  • Commercial compost (plastic bags are notorious for fouling compost)
  • Water quality impacts (plastics impact marine ecosystems in a variety of ways- habitat, oxygen depletion, sediment loading, aquatic species, microplastics accumulation, etc.)
  • Shoreline and terrestrial impacts (could include tourism impacts, impacts to terrestrial species, etc.)
  • Greenhouse gas impacts – generally discussed for paper and plastic, should include benefits of reusables
  • Incineration
  • Challenges with exporting waste
  • Circular economy/durable bags

Use already existing materials, extrapolate relevant data, and/or create materials specific to your specific geography. Acknowledging that developing such reports and evaluations can cost money, one may be able to extrapolate from already existing information to make it relevant in your region. This information will help justify the measure, as well as help demonstrate effectiveness down the line.


List of Facts & Figures

Los Angeles, USA:  Economic Impact Analysis

San Francisco, USA:  Economic Analysis

San Diego, USA: Analysis of Economic and Environmental Impacts

Wales:  Cost Benefit Analysis of Bags for Life Charges

Australia: Analysis of Levies + Environmental Impacts

California Master Environmental Assessment on Single-Use + Reusable Bags

UK Life Cycle Assessment of Supermarket Carrier Bags