The state of California is spending between $33 million to $103 million each year to clean up after plastic bags.
This new estimate of plastic bag cleanup costs is based on a recently released US EPA report, which indicates that west coast communities spend an average of $13 per resident to manage marine debris from streets and waterways...for a whopping total of over $520 million combined in the three west coast states.
Using this information, a state the size of California is stuck with an annual bill of approximately $412 million to manage marine debris and keep this litter from ending up in our oceans.
According to San Jose, plastic bags made up 8% of the litter volume in San Jose creeks prior to its bag ordinance implementation. And LA County reported in its bag ordinance study that as much as 25% of the debris collected in its catch basins was comprised of plastic bags.
After considering this range of plastic bag composition in waterways and drainage systems, we estimate that between 33 and 103 million dollars are spent to keep plastic bags out of California's environment and ultimately from our oceans.
This is a cost that is unnecessary and easily avoidable.