What Plastic Bag Bans Means for Businesses

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California, New York, and Hawaii – what do these states all have in common? All three have a ban on plastic bags. In addition to those, some US cities – such as Boston, Chicago, and Washington, DC – have also put a ban on plastic bags.

To say “plastic bag ban” is a bit of a catchall term. Hawaii, for instance, enacts this ban within its most populated counties, but not statewide. The ruling in Washington, DC is that customers buying food or alcohol must pay a 5 cent fee per bag used – paper or plastic. And when New York enacts their ban in 2020, it will exclude restaurant takeout bags. It will focus more on retailers and grocers instead.

However the specifics may vary, the overarching goal remains the same: drastically reduce the amount of one-time use plastic. Like most eco-friendly efforts, it’s a great idea. How exactly a business carries it out, though, can be a bit challenging.

Paper Bags

Replacing plastic bags with paper ones is a good first step for business owners effected by these rulings. Just make sure you understand your area’s regulations on paper bags before you make the switch. While this swap works in some areas, others places need paper bags to be made up of at least 40% recycled material. In California there is a 10 cent fee even for recycled single use paper bags.

Reusable Totes

When both paper and plastic bags prevent a problem, spring for reusable totes. If this makes the most sense for your business, then the best way to capitalize on these is to have your logo printed on them. When your customers reuse these all over town, they’re showing off your brand. It’s like a walking billboard. Also, when you make such a nice bag available to customers, you can do so at a premium.

Reusable Plastic Wave Bags

We know what you’re thinking – these are plastic bags. So how can they be acceptable in places with a plastic bag ban? If a bag is made of at least 2.25 mil plastic and created from a minimum of 25% post-consumer recycled material, it’s considered reusable. You’ll want to check what the specific regulations are in your area, but in many cases a reusable plastic bag is exempt from the ban. Because of their low price point, they make a great alternative to the non-woven reusable totes. And since they can be used over and over again, you can feel good about stocking them at your business. Colorful, frosty wave bags are a great way to get people to notice your business.


Let our team of experienced Packaging Advisors get you the right bag for your business. Give them a call at 888-321-2248 and see how they can help!

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