State plastic and paper bag legislation, Fees taxes and bans, Recycling and reuse, California first state to ban single use plastic bags at large retail stores, Hawaii de facto statewide ban

From the National Conference of State Legislatures.


Fees, Taxes and Bans | Recycling and Reuse

States continue to consider strategies to reduce the use of carryout plastic bags from grocery stores and other retail outlets.

Regulating bags can mitigate harmful impacts to oceans, rivers, lakes, forests and the wildlife that inhabit them. Reducing bag use can also relieve pressure on landfills and waste management.

While some states are focusing on implementing effective recycling programs, others are attempting to impose bans or fees to discourage the use of plastic bags altogether.

Bans and Fees

In August 2014, California became the first state to enact legislation imposing a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags at large retail stores. The bill also required a 10 cent minimum charge for recycled paper bags, reusable plastic bags, and compostable bags at certain locations. The ban was supposed to take effect on July 1, 2015, but a referendum forced the issues onto the ballot for November 2016. Proposition 67 passed with 52 percent of the vote, meaning the plastic bag ban approved by the Legislature two years ago will remain. A detailed summary of the law can be found below. Voters also rejected a second measure, Proposition 65, which proposed to create an environmental fund with proceeds from a 10 cent charge for alternative bags.

Hawaii has a de facto statewide ban as all of its most populous counties prohibit non-biodegradable plastic bags at checkout, as well as paper bags containing less than 40 percent recycled material. Bans in Kauai, Maui and Hawaii counties took effect between 2011 and 2013, with Honolulu becoming the last major county to approve the ban in 2015.

In 2009, the District of Columbia enacted a law to ban the distribution of disposable, non-recyclable plastic carry-out bags and set a fee of five cents for distribution of all other disposable bags.

Cities with Plastic Bag Bans Cities/Counties with Plastic Bag Fees


2015-2016 Legislative Summary

Between 2015 and 2016 at least 77 bills have been proposed by 23 states regarding the regulation of plastic bags in retail settings. Only three states—Arizona, Idaho, and Missouri—have enacted legislation this year, all of which preempt local governments from regulating the sale or use of plastic bags, including the imposition of any fees or taxes (see tables below).”

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