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The Financial Burden of Single-use Plastic Bags

You’ve read the staggering statistics on the environmental ramifications of single-use plastic and paper bags. But, have you stopped to consider how much those “free” checkout bags actually cost you? Maybe you should. Plastic bags cost US consumers approximately $4 billion dollars in increased good costs per year. Stores typically pay 2 to 5 cents per plastic bag. Business aren’t spending that money for shopper convenience—they’re burying that cost in the price of each product, adding up to as much as $18 per person, per year (ecovote.org).

plastic-bags1An estimated 8 billion plastic bags enter the US waste stream per year, and worldwide over 200,000 plastic bags are dumped into landfills every HOUR (planetark.com). A typical landfill costs over $20 million to build and millions of dollars per year to maintain.  Nearly all of this money comes from taxpayers—over $750 million per year in California alone!

Cities in California have estimated that the taxpayer cost to subsidize the recycling, collection, and disposal of plastic and paper bags amounts to as much as 17 cents per bag. Given that Californians use 19 billion plastic bags annually, this equates to approximately $3.23 billion or $88 per person per year to subsidize the cleanup and litter abatement of JUST plastic bags. These are taxpayer dollars that could otherwise be redirected to pay for much needed public services such as parks, libraries, and public safety (cawrecycles.org).

Do your part. Choose to say “no” to plastic bags at checkout and bring your own reusable grocery bags when you shop. Folding reusable bags are compact and can be stowed anywhere–so no more excuses!

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