Alameda County Bag Ban Results: 85% Fewer Bags In Stores

In a press release today, the Alameda County Waste Management Authority (Stopwaste) announced a dramatic drop in bag distribution thanks to its 2013 plastic bag ban.

Stopwaste is reporting an 85% decrease in bag sales in the covered stores, after nearly two years of implementation. Store owners reported that they are buying 50% to 90% fewer bags, and the number of shoppers bringing in their own bags or going without any bags at all has more than doubled.

The ordinance was adopted in 2012 and went into effect in grocery, convenience, and drug stores on the first of the following year.

In addition to a plastic bag ban, the ordinance added a 10 cent charge to paper and reusable bags to discourage waste and help change behavior. One store owner revealed that the charge is working:

"I've been the owner for over 20 years--it's been a big change. It's changed people's habits because they don't want to pay 10 cents."

The bag ordinance is a win for both the environment and the economy. An NRDC survey found that local governments in California are spending $428 million each year to prevent marine debris, and LA County studies have showed that as much as 25% of stormwater debris can consist of plastic bags. After voluntary efforts to reduce plastic bag pollution fell short, Stopwaste began work on an ordinance that would help reduce the costs to meet the water pollution reduction requirements under the federal Clean Water Act.

Stopwaste Board President Jennifer West stated, "I think we can all appreciate fewer plastic bags flying around in the street."

Take action on SB 270, the state bag ban, to bring those same economic and environmental benefits to the rest of the state. Write to Governor Brown and urge him to sign the bill, which is currently awaiting his signature.