This has been a week of dueling studies related to plastic bag bans, giving both ban opponents and ban enthusiasts some data to back up their talking points.
On Jan. 9, a study from Freedonia Custom Research — funded by the American Recyclable Plastic Bag Alliance — stated that since New Jersey began a plastic bag ban in May 2022, there has been a 40 percent increase in greenhouse gas emissions and a sixfold increase in polypropylene used, with that material going to durable reusable bags.
As Plastics News' Steve Toloken writes, the study said the use of traditional single-use polyethylene bags in the state dropped from 2.3 billion units before the ban, in the baseline year of 2015, to about 300 million in 2022 after the ban.
But that study was followed Jan. 18 by the report "Plastic Bag Bans Work," backed by MASSPIRG Education Fund, Environment Massachusetts Research and Policy Center, and Frontier Group, stating it found that bag bans reduced plastic bag litter by a third while encouraging the use of more sustainable options. The study analyzed information from five locations with plastic bag bans.
Obviously it's no surprise that each side could find data to support their point of view. In addition, we should expect both reports to come up in future debates about bag bans. MASSPIRG and its backers are already noting plans calling for a statewide bag ban in Massachusetts, citing successful efforts elsewhere in the United States.
With public policy discussions for 2024 underway, you should prepare for those arguments now by becoming familiar with the other side's talking points.