A Tax On Plastic Bags?

There are a large number of cities, states, and even countries that are talking about putting a tax, or even a ban on the use of plastic grocery bags. I wonder how much of a difference this could make, if any.

Last year Washington DC enacted a bill that added a 5-cent tax on every paper and plastic bag purchased in the stores. Bringing your own bag, is of course, free. So what was the outcome of doing this? Well, it looks like it reduced the amount of plastic bag litter by about a third. The tax also helped to raise $2 million dollars. That $2 million was well below the $3.5 Million projection, but even that I think would be considered a good thing. Stores so far this year are already buying half as many bags as they normally do.

If more places enact laws such as these, not only will we see a reduction in the amount of waste, but the money raised by the taxes can be used to help fund clean up efforts as well.


  1. The plastic bag levy was first introduced in Ireland on the 4th March 2002 at the rate of 15 cent per bag. Its primary purpose was to reduce the consumption of disposable plastic bags by influencing consumer behavior. All levies are transferred to a government environment fund used for future environmentally friendly initiatives.
    It had an immediate effect on consumer behavior with a decrease in plastic bag usage from an estimated 328 bags per capita to 21 bags per capita overnight. The charge for the bags although not a lot, was enough for people to realise that it was easier to change their habits than to pay every time they needed a bag.


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