LOS ANGELES (Aug. 16, 12:15 p.m. ET) — A ban on single-use plastic bags can hurt sales for grocers and retailers within the bag ban area and drive shoppers to stores just outside the ban region, according to a study from the National Center for Policy Analysis.
NCPA, a conservative, non-profit think tank based in Dallas, surveyed store managers in Los Angeles County, Calif., where a bag ban went into effect in July 2011. The survey found that on average, stores outside the ban region reported an increase in sales of about 3.4 percent, whereas stores inside the ban region experienced a 3.3 percent decrease in sales.
Four-fifths of stores within the ban region reported a sales decrease averaging 5.7 percent.
Furthermore, while every store inside the ban area was forced to lay off employees, none of the stores outside the ban area did so, the report indicates.
The study also analyzes the environmental and health effects of bag bans, concluding that “there are also no environmental benefits to banning plastic bags — but there is potential harm.
“Compared to cloth bags, plastic bags require less energy to produce and less energy to recycle and produce less municipal waste,” the report said. “Plastic bags generate fewer greenhouse gas emissions and require less water to produce than paper bags. Cloth bags need to be used 104 times before there is any environmental advantage over plastic bags. But most cloth bags are used half that amount. Reusing cloth bags can also lead to cross-contamination and disease.”
The report is available on the NCPA's website. (PDF)
Kerri Jansen from Waste & Recycling News contributed to this report.