Surprise: LA's plastic bag ban will save neither the environment nor the economy

Proponents give three reasons for the bag ban. They claim it will reduce the amount of waste entering landfills, reduce litter on streets, and “help protect the environment.” …

First, banning free plastic grocery bags won’t reduce waste. California’s Statewide Waste Characterization Study [pdf] shows that “Plastic Grocery and Other Merchandise Bags” consistently make up just 0.3 percent of the waste stream in the state. That’s three-tenths of 1 percent. In comparison, organic waste such as food and yard clippings makes up 32 percent while construction debris comprises about 30 percent. The effect of eliminating free grocery bags on the amount of waste generated in the city would be insignificant. …

So if banning free plastic grocery bags won’t save the planet, what will it do? For one thing, it will lead to the loss of American jobs. More than 30,000 people in the U.S. are directly employed by the plastic bag manufacturing and recycling industry, and thousands more are indirectly employed.