FAQs: Plastic bag bans

Most of us are familiar with the environmental allegations against disposable plastic bags. They can harm native wildlife, crowd our landfills and pollute our oceans – not to mention the fact that their production has a large carbon footprint. You may also know that across the world, various countries, states, provinces and cities have taken to banning plastic bag use. Others have tied taxes and charges to combat the problem. As if you didn't have enough reasons to switch to reusable bags, consider these frequently asked questions about plastic bag bans around the globe.

Where did plastic bag regulation begin?

The first governmental barrier to plastic bag use occurred in Denmark in 1993. The legislation created a tax imposed on plastic bag producers, according to the Earth Policy Institute. Because companies had to pay higher taxes on the bags they produced, costs began to rise for consumers. The regulation resulted in a 60 per cent reduction in plastic bag consumption across the country.

How else do governments tax plastic bag use?

Denmark is just one example of a country that has reduced its consumption of these harmful products. Ireland also imposed a tax on plastic bags – but this time, the charge was applied directly to consumers. People had to pay about 15 euro cents per plastic bag each time they obtained one from a store. Consumption of the bags fell by a whopping 90 per cent.

Whether governments tax plastics companies or consumers, it appears that adding additional charges to plastic bag use is effective. Some countries and cities, however, have taken to banning bags entirely.

Where does Australia stand on plastic bags?

In 2009, South Australia implemented a complete ban on plastic bags. The legislature states that single-use bags cannot be given away or sold by retailers, and that bags termed 'biodegradable' be properly labelled, according to Ban the Bag.

A few other Australian states have recently followed South Australia's example. The Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory also banned the harmful products. A variety of municipalities, including Coles Bay, Tasmania (the first location in Australia to ban the bags), have also followed suit.

Whether you live in an area that currently outlaws plastic bags or you just want to reduce your dependence on these goods, there are plenty of stylish and affordable reusable bags available that will keep both you and the planet happy.