Plastic Bag Bans Create Economic Backlash

Aug 16, 2012, 08:30 ET from National Center for Policy Analysis

NCPA Study: Store Owners Report Loss in Sales, Employment

DALLAS, Aug. 16, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A ban on plastic bags used by grocers and retailers can negatively impact sales in the ban area and increase sales among stores just outside the bag ban region, according to a new study from the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA).

The NCPA surveyed store managers in Los Angeles County where a ban of thin-film bags took effect in July, 2011, to determine the ban's impact on revenues and employment.

Over a one year period before and after the ban, stores that fell under the bag ban experienced a 10 percent reduction in employment, while employment in stores outside of the ban slightly increased.

Additionally, the majority of stores surveyed in areas with a ban reported an overall average sales decline of nearly 6 percent.  However, the majority of respondents surveyed in areas without a ban reported an overall average sales growth of 9 percent.  

"These findings suggest that bag bans may displace commerce and have real economic effects," said NCPA Senior Fellow Pamela Villarreal. "Shoppers want to have a choice and will vote with their feet."

"Unfortunately, in Los Angeles County and other jurisdictions that have imposed bans or punitive taxes on bags have not considered unintended consequences.  The environmental benefits of banning plastic bags are dubious enough, but the potential hardship created for businesses has been all but ignored."

A Survey on the Economic Effects of Los Angeles County's Plastic Bag Ban:


Pamela Villarreal is the NCPA's expert on retirement, Social Security, economic growth and tax issues.

The National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy research organization, established in 1983. We bring together the best and brightest minds to tackle the country's most difficult public policy problems — in health care, taxes, retirement, small business, and the environment. Visit our website today for more information.

SOURCE National Center for Policy Analysis