Reason Foundation

Reason Foundation

An Evaluation of the Effects of California’s Proposed Plastic Bag Ban

A plastic bag ban will cost consumers but won't improve the environment

Julian Morris and Lance Christensen
June 18, 2014

Many cities and counties in California have passed ordinances banning the distribution of high density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic grocery bags and mandating fees for paper bags. State Senator Alex Padilla recently introduced a bill (SB 270) that would impose similar requirements statewide.

The premise of these laws is to benefit the environment and reduce municipal costs. In practice, the opposite is more likely to be the case.

While the impact of such legislation depends on the way consumers respond, the available evidence suggests that it will do nothing to protect the environment; quite the opposite, it will waste resources and cost Californian consumers billions of dollars. Specifically, such legislation will:

Julian Morris is Vice President, Research

Lance Christensen is Director, Pension Reform Project

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