Jul 5, 2018

By the numbers: How the world is banning single-use plastics

Plastic litter in sand

Photo: Milos Bicanski/Getty Images

A proposed bill, which would charge five cents for single-use plastic bags at grocery stores in New Jersey, hit a snag this week when Gov. Phil Murphy used a line-item veto on the measure.

The big picture: Plastic waste has created a serious environmental problem, with global plastic production growing over 400 million tons in 2015. Because of this, local governments, major cities, states, and foreign governments are introducing legislation that would cut back on single-use plastics, such as grocery bags and straws. However, some of these efforts have been met with fierce opposition.

By the numbers:
  • Seattle, Washington became the first major U.S. city to ban plastic straws and utensils on Sunday.
  • California, which was the first state to ban most stores from handing out plastic bags, is now looking at a ban on plastic bottle caps as well as restrictions that would require customers to specifically request plastic straws before a restaurant could provide them.
  • Malibu, California has already banned plastic straws and utensils.
  • New York City, Miami, and Hawaii — which have bans on non-biodegradable shopping bags — have pending plastic straw bans as well.
  • Fort Myers, Florida has a plastic straw ban in place.
  • Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle all have bans on plastic bags, while Boulder, Colorado; Brownsville, Texas; Montgomery County, Maryland; New York City; Portland, Maine; and Washington, D.C. have bag fees, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
  • The European Commission is considering bans on single-use plastic such as cutlery, plates, and straws.
  • British Prime Minister Theresa May committed at the start of this year to get rid of plastic waste in the U.K. within the next 25 years. Part of the initiative included charging for plastic bags at stores. Queen Elizabeth II has already banned plastic straws and bottles from all royal estates, cafes, and gift shops.
  • Taiwan will ban all single-use plastic items, including straws, cups and shopping bags, by 2030.

Yes, but: Some measures have received pushback. Some states, including Idaho, Mississippi and Missouri, are considering bills that would prevent any local government bans or imposed fees on plastic bag use, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

  • Austin, Texas had a plastic bag ban in place since 2013, but following a court ruling late last month, the city will no longer be enforcing the ban, according to the Texas Tribune.
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