Freedonia Report Finds New Jersey Single-Use Bag Ban Boosts Alternative Bag Production, Increases Plastic Consumption, and Drives Retailer Profits

This shift from plastic film to alternative bags resulted in a nearly 3x increase in plastic consumption for bags, which is not widely recycled.

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NEW JERSEY (January 9, 2024) – On Tuesday, Freedonia Custom Research (FCR), a division of, released a report detailing the impact of New Jersey’s single-use bag ban on consumer behavior, retail practices in the state, and the environment. The outcome of the ban, revealed by market research, interviews, and comprehensive studies, unveils a complicated landscape as bag purchasing behavior continues to evolve.

In 2022, following implementation of the New Jersey bag ban, total bag volumes declined by more than 60% to 894 million bags. However, the study also shows, following New Jersey’s ban of single-use bags, the shift from plastic film to alternative bags resulted in a nearly 3x increase in plastic consumption for bags. At the same time, 6x more woven and non-woven polypropylene plastic was consumed to produce the reusable bags sold to consumers as an alternative. Most of these alternative bags are made with non-woven polypropylene, which is not widely recycled in the United States and does not typically contain any post-consumer recycled materials. This shift in material also resulted in a notable environmental impact, with the increased consumption of polypropylene bags contributing to a 500% increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions compared to non-woven polypropylene bag production in 2015. Notably, non-woven polypropylene, NWPP, the dominant alternative bag material, consumes over 15 times more plastic and generates more than five times the amount of GHG emissions during production per bag than polyethylene plastic bags.

The study also found that New Jersey retailers faced significant changes in their front-end business operations due to the bag ban. No longer permitted to provide complimentary single-use plastic or paper bags, retailers are offering alternative bags for sale to fill the void. Simultaneously, consumers are rapidly transitioning to grocery pickup and delivery services, which typically requires the use of new alternative bags for every transaction. As a result, alternative bag sales grew exponentially, and the shift in bag materials has proven profitable for retailers. An in-depth cost analysis evaluating New Jersey grocery retailers reveals a typical store can profit $200,000 per store location from alternative bag sales – for one major retailer this amounts to an estimated $42 million in profit across all its bag sales in NJ.

Despite retailers finding a compelling business case for selling alternative bags at a profit, the increased plastic consumption and GHG emissions generated during alternative bag production hamper retailers’ ability to promote alternative polypropylene bags. FCR’s analysis of New Jersey bag demand and trade data for alternative bags finds that, on average, an alternative bag is reused only two to three times before being discarded, falling short of the recommended reuse rates necessary to mitigate the greenhouse gas emissions generated during production and address climate change.

About Freedonia Custom Research

Freedonia Custom Research (FCR), a division of, is a third-party market research firm that provides unbiased and verifiable market sizing, segmentation and forecasting, competitive intelligence, voice of market and value chain analyses specializing in global industrial markets. FCR conducts primary research, including in-depth phone interviews and online surveys of competitors, product end users, and suppliers, and has access to the entire library of Freedonia Group syndicated reports. This targeted intelligence can be especially useful for tough-to-size markets or very specific market niches with little or no available published data. Drawing on The Freedonia Group’s more than 35 years as a trusted source of reliable and unbiased industry market research, we have been helping our clients make the right decisions through hundreds of complex projects completed for many of the largest industrial companies in the world. Our experience spans a wide range of industries, with global coverage.

About the Freedonia Group

The Freedonia Group, a division of, is a premier international business research company, providing clients with product analyses, market forecasts, industry trends, and market share information. From one-person consulting firms to global conglomerates, our analysts provide companies with unbiased, reliable industry market research and analysis to help them make important business decisions. The Freedonia Group’s brands also include Packaged Facts, a trusted provider of consumer market research on food & beverage, pet products and services, demographics, and financial services, and Simba Information, the leading authority for market intelligence and forecasts on the education and professional publishing industries. Find off-the-shelf studies at or contact us for custom research: +1 440.842.2400.

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