Plastic bag reduction policies: What is the most effective approach?

Plastic bag reduction policies: What is the most effective approach? poster

Research Authorship:

Emily Jeffries, Dr. Joshua Gellers

Faculty Mentor:

Dr. Joshua Gellers | College of Arts and Sciences | Department of Political Science and Public Administration


Plastic pollution has been a hot topic in the scientific community for decades, and more recently, legislation to curb the problem has been popping up across the globe. Plastic bags are a particular item that has been identified as a large offender in plastic pollution. The environmental damage and economic cost of this pollution is widely documented and can be reviewed in Derraik’s 2002 study and Wagner’s 2017 study. This paper will review and analyze literature on the success of plastic bag reduction policies around the world, and determine which solutions are most effective in order to make relevant policy recommendations. The three main policy strategies reviewed in this paper are bans, fees or taxes, and education or marketing. I initially estimated that the most effective policy would be a full ban on plastic bags. My research found that the most effective policy is a ban coupled with a high rate fee on substitutes like paper or compostable bags. However, in jurisdictions where a ban cannot be adequately enforced or passed into law, fees or taxes for plastic bags should still help to reduce usage. Marketing and educational campaigns had mixed results, more research is needed in this area.

1 thought on “Plastic bag reduction policies: What is the most effective approach?”

  1. Howdy Mrs. Jeffries,

    Do you see policy makers having had learned from the failures of previous plastic bag campaigns and moving forward with legislation that takes into the account the multiple effects of public policy (See the U.S.’s rise in paper bag use)?

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