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Plastic bag manufacturers are engaged in a well funded battle to maintain an unregulated marketplace for their product. Cities generally lack the funding and central organization available to industry groups and are faced with a steep learning curve regarding the complexities of plastic bag laws, which is often accompanied by the threat of litigation. In an effort to facilitate research for cities and states interested in adopting plastic bag laws, we have compiled the text of  laws, related litigation, and relevant studies.  Our hope is that having this information available in one place will lead to the adoption of more plastic bag laws. Expands Focus to New York City

Jennie Romer of helped found the BagItNYC Coalition, which worked with NYC Council Members Brad Lander and Margaret Chin on drafting carryout bag legislation, which is currently before the Council.  The bill would require a 10-cent minimum charge on carryout bags at all retailers in NYC.

Click on the photo below to view a slideshow of plastic bag litter in NYC:

plastic bag on sidewalk 1

A short history of plastic bag laws in California

California state law (AB 2449) preempts municipalities from charging a fee for plastic bags at checkout. San Francisco circumvented this law by enacting a ban on plastic bags  instead of imposing a fee. (read more . . .)

Potentially viable policy options include:

  • bans on single-use carryout bags
  • charges for single-use carryout bags
  • second generation plastic bag bans (incl charge on paper & reusable) (standard structure in California)
  • credits for bags supplied by the customer

Click here for detailed explanation of policy options as of early 2014.