What are the Pros and Cons of Banning Plastic Bags?

Counting Down Our Top 10 Green Posts of 2015!

The Two Sides to the Plastic Bag Ban Debate

There are two sides to every argument, right? Yet when you stack the advantages of implementing a plastic bag ban against the disadvantages, one thing becomes clear – there isn’t a good reason to oppose a ban on disposable plastic bags. The reality of plastic bags is that while they are recyclable, only a small percentage find their way into a recycling bin. Whereas reusable bags made from polypropylene (pp) utilize post-industrial/pre-consumer recycled materials that get repeated use. But more on this later in our blog.

Most plastic bags end up in landfills or as litter and no matter how you tabulate the numbers, plastic bags do not safely break down and it costs money to pick up litter. People and groups against banning plastic bags attempt to diminish the harmful and damaging realities of these facts. Most of the reasons bandied about by those who contest plastic bag bans are not so many reasons, as they are counterarguments against valid realities to implementing a ban.

Pros of Plastic Bag Bans

  • Plastic bag bans enhance the economy: Bans on plastic bags cause an uptick in business for reusable bag manufacturers and lead to increased employment opportunities.
  • Eliminating plastic bags reduces the cost of goods: Stores have to factor the cost of disposable bags into their prices. By eliminating plastic bags, stores can lower prices, helping shoppers save $18 to $30 annually.
  • Plastic bags are not biodegradable: When plastic bags become litter, they pollute oceans, rivers, farmlands, cities, and neighborhoods. Bans eliminate bags, which equals less litter and less pollution.
  • Picking up litter costs tax money: Banning plastic bags will reduce litter and allow for tax money to be redirected to more important areas.
  • Marine life will improve: Marine animals often mistake plastic bags for jellyfish or plankton, leading them to consume the litter and become ill or die.
  • Drainage infrastructures run more efficiently: Plastic litter often clogs drainage systems, causing unnecessary flooding.
  • Plastic bag bans reduce the need for petroleum: Banning plastic bags will minimize the dependency on limited non-renewable resources.
  • Decrease the mosquito population: Discarded plastic bags collect rainwater and create a breeding ground for mosquitos, some of which could carry the West Nile Virus or Triple E Virus.

Cons of Plastic Bag Bans

  • Plastic bans manufacturers scale back: Bans often lead plastic bag manufacturers to scale back business and may lead to layoffs.
  • The upfront cost to shoppers: Plastic bag bans will require shoppers to purchase reusable bags, which can range from $1 and up.

Find an embeddable Pro and Cons image below.

Let’s Get The Facts Straight!

Groups opposed to bag bans have argued that while litter does contribute to the death of thousands of marine animals each year, it is not fair to single out plastic bags as the cause. The “plastic bags aren’t only to blame” argument goes on to explain that lost or abandoned fishing gear is also responsible for the wrongful death of marine animals and a plastic bag ban does not address the entire problem. This “all or nothing” rationale is not only weak, but it is also short-sighted.

Just because there is a wide variety of litter in our oceans does not mean we should sit by and not attempt to begin to fix the plastic problem. Solving parts of a problem—with products like eco-friendly reusable bags—ultimately serves to contribute to a greater solution.

Opposing groups have also claimed that cleaning up plastic bag litter is not that expensive and municipalities that claim financial savings as a result of implementing a ban are not portraying the numbers accurately. To that, we say that no matter how much money is spent cleaning up litter, it is too much. When money is directed to cleaning up litter, that means there is less money to fix infrastructure and build communities.

Who Is Behind the Opposition to Plastic Bag Bans?

It is also worth noting that those who oppose plastic bag bans are more often than, not employed by plastic bag manufacturers or lobbyists for the industry. Plastic bag manufacturers want to stay in business and thwart efforts that would force them to change their business model to one that fits with a more sustainable ideology or go out of business.

Want More of Both Sides Before You Get on Board to Ban the Bag?

If you are still undecided as to whether or not bag bans are a good choice for communities, our country, and our world, read the article Should Cities Ban Plastic Bags which our CEO found intriguing and informative and wanted to share with our FDP community. The article outlines an argument for banning plastic bags by Daniella Dimitrova Russo, co-founder and executive director of the Plastic Pollution Coalition, and is immediately followed by an argument against banning disposable plastic bags by Todd Myers, environmental director at the Washington Policy Center.

We Want to Know What YOU Think!

We want to know which side of the plastic bag ban debate you fall on and why. Please let us know in the comments below or via social media!

[Click on the image for embed code]

Pros and Cons of Plastic Bag Bans

Photo Sources: Key Frame Studios, Factory Direct Promos

88 thoughts on “What are the Pros and Cons of Banning Plastic Bags?

  1. sheila

    I would like to point out banning plastic bags probably means cutting down more trees. My solution is going from” trashy to trendy”. Check out my website to see how I turn plastic bags into amazing handbags all made with recycled plastic bags:www.sheilaodessey.com

    • Melissa

      That may be true, but you can plant trees to replace the ones that have been cut down. If done correctly, it should not contribute that much to deforestation

      • Christian

        Very true in 1999 more paper bags were in use cutting millions of trees down, but definitely, I believe with a fee on single-use plastic bags it can be used to plant more trees to tackle the problem with greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. If only they would stop cutting acres of trees down where I’m at because with all the space they choose to control burn which actually caused a bunch of people to have health issues. Deforestation is a really big problem as well, but definitely starting small and building up is the way to go.

    • Shane Shirley-Smith, CMO Post author

      Jake so you are saying that because you have to use a reusable bag, you choose to spend more money on gas to shop in another town in order to not have to buy reusable bags?

  2. Pingback: The Two Sides of the Bag Ban Debate  

  3. Pingback: The Two Sides of The Plastic Bag Ban Debate

  4. wixi.

    Thank you Ms. Shirley. The information’s were very helpful. I did manage to use a lot as reference to my major project base on importance of banning plastic bags.

  5. Pingback: The Pros and Cons of Banning Plastic Bags – Don't be an Old Bag on the North Shore

  6. Cassandra La Fey

    Although this article is very informative, it leaves out some facts. Plastic bags are much more cost-effective to produce than the alternatives. Plastic bags manufacturing also has less water waste and much less deforestation. Furthermore, what would happen to all the people who make plastic bags if they are banned? The plastic bag industry bring sin 50 MILLION dollars.

    I do agree that we should at least implenment a tax on plastic bags, but before you rush to an opinion, look at both sides. If the banning of plastic bags was such a straightfoward and one-sided debate, then why hasn’t everyone already banned plastic bags?

    • Shane Shirley, CMO Post author

      I believe you answered your own question, Cassandra. Unfortunately, the plastic’s industry is strong and puts profit ahead of planet. SS

  7. landon

    im doing something on why plastic shouldnt or should be banned for school. why do we still produce plastic bags if us people see what it does to animals or our planet?

    • Shane Shirley, CMO Post author

      Hi, Landon, great question. Plastic is convenient so it is tough for people to give it up. Also, many people do not even know that plastic is bad for our environment, never breaks down fully and even enters our food chain. Good luck with your project! Shane

      • landon

        thank you for this info. im having great progress! im sharing this web site with all my friends! onvce again, thank you! keep on doin’ what your doing!

  8. AK

    It’s the same as any helpful/harmful debate: bad for the environment but cessation will cause lack of revenue/jobs. I’m sick of plastic. It’s up to us to recycle but why is it companies are allowed to deceminate their product (coffee cannisters, milk jugs, laundry soap,etc) in the first place? Equity will always be first, environment will always be second in this country.(US)

  9. landon

    if we ban plastic bags, then wont we increase our production on paper bags? if that happens we just end up dying of lack of air. how do you make a reusable bag?

    • Shane Shirley, CMO Post author

      Hi, Landon! You are awesome! Thank you for sharing our info with your friends and raising awareness. The goal is to use reusable bags instead of paper. Paper bags are made with responsible forestry, so we will keep breathing. 🙂 You also might find our Infographics helpful at https://www.factorydirectpromos.com/infographics including The Life Cycle of a Plastic Bag. Let us know if you need anything else. We are here to help. SS

  10. landon

    thank you. you know since you guys are so good at this website thing you guys could do more than just plastic bags. you could do stuff on all kinds of pollution. i think you could do it, but its only a suggestion. any ways, this is my favorite site EVER. if you guys added more stuff on pollution it could inform MORE people, and they would check this site every day. but either way, thank you again. this is the most help i have ever got. i love this site! keep on rocking!

  11. landon

    i cant tell, is that a question? heh heh heh. i have another question though. if plastic bags gets into oceans, cant paper bags do the same?? if i were a turtle i would think, ‘this is new! what does it taste like?’ the i eat it. i eat new things. like shrimp, or squid legs. what is keeping turtles from eating paper?! by the way, im sorry if im bugging you a lot.

    • Shane Shirley, CMO Post author

      That was definitely a statement, Landon. 🙂 Paper bags usually do not end up in the ocean as they are heavier than plastic bags so they do not float around. Also, if they do end up in the ocean or in our environment, they fully break down and decompose. Plastic NEVER fully breaks down and the tiny particles stay on our planet and in our food chain forever. 🙁 SS

    • Shane Shirley, CMO Post author

      Yes, it certainly is, Landon. 🙁 That is why we do what we do and we are so happy you are learning more and joining with us in our mission to reduce the use of single-use plastic bags. Shane

  12. landon

    i honestly really cant do anything. who listens to a kid??
    i cant just walk up to a guy at the desk in target and say,” stop using bags youll die.” and walk away.

    • Shane Shirley, CMO Post author

      Landon, you have more power than you realize. First, with your family, then your friends and then who knows. People need to be educated in a thoughtful way and it seems to me you have that knowledge people need. Tell people to find our post by simply Googling “what are the pros and cons of banning plastic bags” That is a great place for people to get more info once you have shared your knowledge. You can do a lot. You could even join with other students and start a bag ban in your community. And when you go to the store, use a reusable bag or carry your items if there are just a couple. We are here to help you spread the word in any way we can. Thank you, Landon for all you will do to help our planet. Shane

  13. Pingback: Latest News on Plastic Bag Bans in New York

    • Shane Shirley, CMO Post author

      Awesome, Jack! We love to hear that. Please let us know if there is any other way we can help. Shane

  14. landon

    hey, my brther is making a google slides. he asked for subjects, and i said pollution. then i remembered this website! my brother is going to do his research on this website!! by the way, i got above average on my research of plastic assignment!!

  15. landon

    hey, its me. my brother is doing a google slides, he asked me for a topic. i said pollution, hen it reminded my of this website. so here i am. by the way, i got above average on my plastic bag research study!!!! that was a yr ago but either way, thanks!!! cant believe i forgot ’bout this website.

  16. landon

    srry, didnt know it worked first time. question though, are paper bags just as dangerous as plastic? would it have same effects on body if you eat it, or since its natural, it would hurt any thing?

  17. landon

    thank you! i had no idea. but if you would take my question and replace paper bag with fabric, what would your answer be? the same or diff?

    • Shane Shirley, CMO Post author

      Hi, Landon! Absolutely (if I am following your question). I would much rather eat an organic cloth bag than plastic any day of the week. Hope all is well with you. If you are on Twitter, Facebook or Insta, follow along with us by using the buttons on the bottom of our site.:) SS

    • Shane Shirley, CMO Post author

      Hi, Garbage Bag Supplier! This is such an interesting dilemma. Yard waste and garbage from the home. One thing to keep in mind I think is to recycle correctly and responsibly. The next would be to use a recycled garbage bin outside for yard waste and inside utilize the bio bags which I have found to be great although pricey. Unfortunately, as I understand it, if the bags are tossed into a landfill tightly packed with garbage on top, they usually do not get enough of the required oxygen to break down. If anyone has any info on this, I would love to hear it. TY! SS

  18. Helen

    It isn’t fair to the elderly who can carry a plastic bag easier. What about the diapers,the water bottles,milk jugs. Are you going to ban all plastic? How many more jobs do you want our country to loose? It’s always something, people harped on coal,till the miners lost their jobs. The world would have been dark without them. We have plastic trash bags,come on..its all crazy. You can put a dirty diaper in a plastic bag or pick up your dogs poop or make a lunch bag out of it. .

  19. Emma Assaad

    I loved using this website because I am doing a school project and I wanted to teach the class about how the environment can benefit from banning plastic bags. I love this idea and hopefully people will consider it. Thanks for the info. It helped a lot.

  20. Calvin

    Hey Shane,
    I love this article and it has been a tremendous help towards my paper on why there should be a tax on plastic bags; however, I have to include counter-arguments for the opposing view. I’m not sure how to justify people losing jobs due to downsizing, or find a way to make it a positive situation. Is there anything I could use to clarify this part?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *