The conventional plastic bag is the one with the least environmental impacts.
The Frontline Defense Against Plastic Bag Bans and Taxes Nationwide
The American Progressive Bag Alliance (APBA) represents the U.S. plastic bag manufacturing and recycling industry, which employs nearly 25,000 workers in 40 states. Founded in 2005, the APBA proactively promotes product lines and leads numerous public policy initiatives that serve as the frontline defense against plastic bag bans and taxes nationwide.
With the support of the industry’s workers, the APBA promotes American-made plastic products that are the smartest, most environmentally-friendly choice at the checkout counter for both retailers and consumers.
Plastic bags require 70% less energy to manufacture and consume 96% less water than what’s used to make paper bags.
Nearly 30,000 hardworking men and women are employed and supported by the plastic bag manufacturing and recycling industry.
Standard reusable cotton grocery bags must be reused 131 times "to ensure that they have lower global warming potential than" a plastic bag used only once.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes – Plastic bags are 100% reusable and recyclable.
According to Recyc-Quebec, a Canadian government agency:
Cotton or canvas bags need to be reused between 100 and 2,954 times.
Reusable woven polypropylene bags need to be reused between 16 to 98 times.
Reusable non-woven polypropylene bags need to be reused 11 to 59 times.
According to the UK Environment Agency:
Paper bags need to be reused 3 times.
Reusable non-woven polypropylene bags need to be reused 11 times.
Cotton or canvas bags need to be reused 131 times.
According to the Denmark Environmental Protection Agency:
Paper bags need to be reused 43 times.
Reusable non-woven polypropylene bags need to be reused 52 times.
Reusable woven polypropylene bags need to be reused 45 times.
Conventional cotton bags need to be reused 7,100 times.
Organic cotton bags need to be reused 20,000 times.
Nearly 30,000 people, directly and indirectly.
No – multiple cities across the country have discovered that plastic bag bans create problems rather than solve them. When consumers are forced to use replacement bags – which are often made of thicker, heavier plastic – that contributes more to waste than the typical plastic grocery bag.
Yes – especially small businesses. Bans can increase costs, making it hard for businesses to comply.
Use our Find My Recycling Center tool to learn where you can recycle your bags.
Your plastic bags may get a new life as eco-friendly raw material for playgrounds, construction materials and new plastic bags.
No – plastic bags are reused by Americans every day. Plastic bags are also 100% recyclable.
In the News
As Vermont’s plastic bag ban heads to the governor, Vermont Public Radio interviewed Matt Seaholm, executive director of the American Progressive Bag Alliance, who said more energy is used to produce replacement paper or cloth bags and that a ban will do little to impact overall litter and waste.
APBA Executive Director Matt Seaholm joined Yahoo Finance’s Zack Guzman and Jeanie Ahn, along with Taylor Lorenz, “The Atlantic” staff writer, to discuss bans on plastic bags. Plastic manufacturers “put sustainability at the forefront of everything we do,” Seaholm said, “and when it comes to bag bans, they just miss the mark on sustainability.”
The Wall Street Journal interviewed Matt Seaholm, who highlighted a U.K. government analysis that found paper bags must be used three times and cotton bags must be used 131 times for their carbon footprint to drop below that of single-use plastic bags made from high-density polyethylene.