States with plastic bag bans prevented billions of bags from being used, report says

A recent report found that plastic bag bans were effective at reducing plastic bag waste in the United States. 

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) Education Fund, Environment America Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group compiled data from across the country and found that plastic bag litter was reduced by one-third or more in states that enacted plastic bag bans or similar policies. 

"The bottom line is that plastic bag bans work," said U.S. PIRG Education Fund President Faye Park. "People realize quickly it’s easy to live without plastic bags and get used to bringing a bag from home or skipping a bag when they can. That means less waste and less litter. For our children to inherit a less polluted earth, that’s exactly what we need." 


FILE - Plastic bags and other trash get caught and accumulate in trees and shrubs along the Los Angeles River at the Glendale Narrows. (Planet/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

The report, Plastic Bag Bans Work, noted that bans in just five locations in the U.S. cut single-use plastic bag consumption by about 6 billion bags per year. 

More than 500 cities across 28 states have enacted a plastic bag ordinance as of 2021, according to Environment America. Of those states, 10 put some form of statewide ban on single-use plastic bags into effect as of 2023. 


FILE - Plastic bag hanging from a twig.

States with statewide ban on single-use plastic bags

  1. California
  2. Connecticut
  3. Delaware
  4. Hawaii
  5. Maine
  6. New Jersey
  7. New York
  8. Oregon
  9. Vermont
  10. Washington

"Single-use plastic bags are constantly getting caught in our trees, lining our roadways and polluting our waterways, where they can harm wildlife," said Celeste Meiffren-Swango, Environment America Research & Policy Center’s Beyond Plastic campaign director. "It’s exciting to see cities and states taking action to reduce the use of this ubiquitous yet unnecessary product. We are seeing real results." 

This story was reported from Los Angeles.