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Economics

How Plastic Bag Bans Impact the Economy

Proponents of plastic bag bans may mean well, but product bans and taxes can increase costs for consumers and businesses, creating taxes and fees that hurt business owners and shoppers who can least afford to pay them.

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Top 3 Takeaways

Certain policies can have unintended negative consequences. These include efforts to ban or tax products such as plastic bags. While these initiatives likely arise from a sincere effort to prevent litter and help the environment, officials often overlook the negative economic impact, and overstate the environmental impact, of these policies.

  • Plastic bags help sustain 30,900 American jobs
  • Plastic bag taxes and bans create challenges for both consumers and business owners
    • A study by the National Center for Policy Analysis shows that plastic bag bans have a negative effect on retail sales in areas where bans are in place, as they encourage shoppers to take their business to areas neighboring the ban regions
    • Seattle’s plastic bag ban is causing store owners to spend 40 to 200 percent more on alternative carryout bags, directly affecting their bottom lines
    • A tax on plastic bags at grocery and retail stores hurts those people who are poor and already food insecure

A better option for states and municipalities working to combat plastic pollution without hurting both the economy and people who are poor is to promote plastic bag and film recycling instead. The recycling of these materials in the United States has been on the rise in recent years.

Supporting the expansion of programs that allow waste to be reduced, reused and recycled can actually create new jobs, instead of threatening them.

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