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Plastic bag programs

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Existing Bag Programs: Summary and Some Results

Location Year Summary of program type Brief Results City Size
Ajman, United Arab Emirates [1] 2010 July Ban on plastic bags within its borders.[2] "Biodegradeable" bags have taken their place[3] Large

Hawaii [4] 2015 July Ban on all non-recyclable paper bags and all non-biodegradable plastic bags at store checkout counters -- Statewide effective July 2015 "Hawaii becomes the first state in the nation to have outlawed plastic bags at every locale in the state." [5] Large

Malibu 2008/2009 Banning of single use plastic bags[6] ? Mid
San Francisco [7] 2004 An ordinance requiring a 17¢ fee on each bag provided at supermarket checkout counters. Nullified with the passage of California Assembly Bill AB 2449 - which requires all CA grocery stores to take back and recycle plastic grocery bags. Large
San Francisco 2007 Single use bag ban / still tweaking rules. 5c tax on paper bags? 50% reduction in bag litter, but this is contested, still tweaking rules.[8] Large
Palo Alto 2009 Supermarkets in Palo Alto are banned from offering single-use plastic bags to customers (although plastic bags can still be used within the produce and meat departments of the stores)[9] ? Mid
Fairfax 2007 A ban on plastic bags was adopted by the Fairfax Town Council in August 2007. Following threats of lawsuit from two plastic bag manufacturers, in November 2008 Fairfax voters adopted a plastic bag ban by initiative.[10] Mid
San Jose 2010 Ban on single use paper and plastic, unless paper is 40% recycled. Even recyc. must be purchased for 10c, going up to 25c in 2 years.[11] N/A Mid

L.A 2010 The Los Angeles bag ban has passed but will only go into effect if the state wide ban to implement a fee on shoppers who request plastic bags fails to go into effect.[12] N/A Large
Santa Clara County prop. 2011 Large

Telluride, CO 2011 Prohibits take out grocery bags, but not in store bulk and meat bags. N/A Small

Maui 2011 Plastic bag ban. Currently voluntary. [13] N/A Small
Brownsville, Texas 2011 Plastic Bag Ban/Tax. 1$ surcharge on transactions involving plastic bags.[14] N/A Small
American Samoa [15] 2011 Plastic bags illegal. Biodegradable and compostable plastic are OK.[16] N/A Mid
Westport, CT 2009 Plastic bag ban. $150 fines for non-compliance of stores. Stores must supply alternate bags, including recyclable paper.[17] 70% increase in customer use of reusable bags. 600,000 fewer plastic bags have been used since the ban started. Mid
Bethel, AK 2010 Plastic Bag Ban[18] Voters overturned a similar ban just eight years before, after businesses rebelled. Small
Edmonds, WA 2009 Ban on plastic bags - all retail establishments Small
Outer banks, NC [19] 2009 Ban on plastic bags for large retail chains / big-box. ? Small
Baltimore, MD 2010 Bag reduction program. Reusable bags of minimum thickness. Reminder signs. Botched immplementation has led to delays. Ban went into effect, but city registry wasn't properly set up to enforce.[20] Large
Chicago, IL 2010 Recycling of bags at stores. City collects weights and costs to enforce compliance.[21] ? Large
Washington, DC 2010 5 cent bag fee on paper AND plastic. 5 cents a penny goes to the business, and the other four cents go into a fund to clean up the Anacostia River and it's tributaries.[22] Single bag use dropped from 22 million to 3m. The tax has raised $150,000. Many stores are reporting a 50-60% reduction in bag usage. The Anacostia Restoration Fund has collected approximately $1.3 million through September 2010. Local non-profits groups have reported a 60% reduction in the plastic bags present at watershed wide clean-ups. Large
NW Territories, Canada 2010 25c fee on bags. Regional distribution of reusable bags, 2 per household.[23] [24] Small
China 2008 Ban on manufacture of ultra thin plastic bags(less than 0.025 millimeters thick), ban on free giveaway of take-away bags, restaurants excluded.[25] One estimate only 15% compliance; 66% reduction, greater in foreign-owned firms than Chinese-owned.[26] NA
Ireland 2001? E$0.15 tax on plastic bags. 90% reduction in plastic bag use. Plastic bag litter accounted for 5% of national litter composition before the levy. In 2002 this number fell to 0.32%, in 2003 to 0.25% and to 0.22% in 2004. "Between January 2002 and April 2003 the number of "clear" areas (i.e. areas in which there is no evidence of plastic bag litter) has increased by 21%, while the number of areas without ‘‘traces’’16 has increased by 56%." [27] NA
Mexico City, MX 2009 Bans business from giving out non-biodegradable bags. Stiff legal fines and jail time.[28] [29]


? Large
Taiwan 2002 Prohibits "hypermarkets, supermarkets, department stores, and convenience stores from handing out free plastic bags."[31] This resulted in these stores either giving out free paper bags, selling thicker plastic bags (for the US equivalent of $0.03), or selling cotton shopping bags for slightly more. NA
South Africa [32] 2003 Ban plastic bags that are less than 0.03 millimeters thick, and retailers that are caught distributing them could face 10 years in jail, or a fine equivalent to $13,800. NA
Southern Australia 2008 Single-use plastic bags banned. Shops must supply reusable or environmentally friendly alternatives such as cornstarch or paper bags.[33] "Immediate, sustained reduction in plastic bag consumption. Showing a 79% reduction across the trial areas." 9 out of 10 shoppers take reusable bags compared to the 6 to 10 before the ban was established. Since October of 2008 400 million less plastic bags a year were consumed.[34] NA
Italy NA
Denmark NA
Baltimore, MD NA
Rwanda [35] A plastic bag ban prohibiting shops form distributing the bags to their customers, and "police are reportedly stopping plastic-bag users in the street." NA

Tanzania 2006 Any person who is caught selling or importing plastic bags that are less than 0.03 millimeters thick could face 6 months in jail or a fine of $2,000.[36] NA
Delhi, India [37] [38] 2009 Bans the bags which are most likely to become stuck in storm drains, which are less than 0.04 millimeters thick. Imposes fines or jail sentence in extreme cases. Bag ban failed 18 months after implementation. Too hard to enforce in city of 16 million, in country that is in the top ten plastic bag producers, basing a ban on policing rather than taxing or providing alternative materials. Large
Leaf Rapids, Manitoba, Canada [39] 2006 The town imposed a 3 cents levy on single-use bags, which was replaced by a ban the following April. It is said that because people had already switched to reusable bags, the ban went relatively unnoticed. Many retailers in the town like the bylaw because they don’t have to buy bags to give away, and they can sell reusable bags. Small


  11. Notice of Availability from the City of San Jose
  13. County of Maui
  14. City of Brownsville
  31. Lan, San-Pui, and Jiun-Kai Chen. "What Makes Customers Bring Their Bags or Buy Bags from the Shop? a Survey of Customers at a Taiwan Hypermarket." Environment and Behavior 38.3 (2006): 318-32.
  38. New Delhi bag ban fails