Amidst Bag Legislation Trend, Survey Shows 'Reusable' Shopping Bags are Minimally Reused

Study finds eco-friendly consumers still value choice at the checkout

May 15, 2014, 07:00 ET from Edelman Berland

WASHINGTON, May 15, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Given recent legislative measures to reduce the use of paper and plastic grocery bags and to emphasize the use of 'reusable' bags as an alternative, Edelman Berland, the research arm of Edelman Public Relations, conducted a comprehensive study to examine the actual reuse rate of 'reusable' bags, which include non-woven polypropylene and low density polyethylene bags.

The study found that although many believe 'reusable' bags are more environmentally friendly than the alternatives, shoppers routinely forget them at home and use them far less frequently than intended.  And, when 'reusable' bags are used, they are often never cleaned.

"While most consumers said they prefer 'reusable' bags, 61% reported that they used plastic bags during their last grocery shopping trip," said Jason McGrath, the study's lead researcher. "The actual reuse rate of 'reusable' grocery bags is only around 15 times, but there is an assumption that people are reusing them at a much higher rate."

"The findings also demonstrated that consumers prefer to have paper and plastic alternatives when it comes to the checkout aisle," added McGrath.

Key findings:

  • 40%: the percent of grocery trips consumers forget their 'reusable' bags and must use the plastic or paper alternative at the store.
  • 14.6 times: the calculated reuse rate of non-woven polypropylene shopping bags in their lifetime.
  • 3.1 times: the calculated reuse rate of low density polyethylene shopping bags in their lifetime.
  • 48%: the percent of respondents who opted to use plastic bags during their most recent grocery trip despite knowing their town/state has some type of plastic bag legislation.
  • 16.4 million: approximate number of consumers in the U.S. walking into grocery stores each week with 'reusable' bags that have never been cleaned.

The full survey results are available here.

About Edelman Berland

Edelman Berland is a global, full-service market research firm that provides corporate, non-profit and government clients with strategic intelligence to make their communications and engagements with stakeholders the smartest they can be. The firm specializes in qualitative and quantitative research, measurement, tracking and analysis in reputation, branding and communications. Edelman Berland is part of Edelman, the world's largest public relations company. Edelman Berland has more than 100 employees in offices around the world. For more information, please visit

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Survey Contact
Jason McGrath

Media Contact
Molly Pacala


SOURCE Edelman Berland