Home Climate Change These Cities Have Banned Plastic (Or Charge For It)
Climate Change By Monica Gray -

If you’ve moved to reusable cutlery and plastic bags, you’re taking a step in the right direction. Cities around the world have banned single-use plastic to help save our environment. Nearly three-quarters of people feel “anxiety, frustration or hopelessness” when they notice the amount of plastic that comes with their shopping, and if we don’t do something to stop it now, we may never be able to undo the damage.

A 2019 poll taken by the World Wildlife Fund in France determined that 85% of people were in favor of banning single-use plastic products. Because science discovered this is a climate emergency, change needs to happen now, and these cities are the pioneers of that change. You can do your part too, by using reusable bags. Besides, they make some stylish ones nowadays. So why not head to the grocery store with cute bags that are also good for the environment?

These Cities Have Banned Plastic (Or Charge For It)
Plastic Pollution Coalition

San Francisco, USA

Let’s take a look at the first USA city to take a step forward and ban plastic. Back in 2007, San Francisco pioneered the ban on single-use plastic bags. This was because of the negative impact plastic was having on the city’s wildlife and environment. It claimed that plastic caused the felling of 14 million trees, and 12 million barrels of oil, and caused the death of 100,000 marine animals every single year. Senior state senator, Ben Allen said, “It’s time for California to lead the nation and world in curbing the plastic crisis. Our planet cannot wait.”

It hoped to drop the city’s bag use by 70% to 90%. Supermarkets and pharmacies followed the ban, or customers had to pay a small fee to use a plastic bag. Eventually, in 2014, it banned the sale of plastic water bottles on any city-owned property. This city is hoping to create a more eco-friendly environment. It aimed to be a zero-waste city by 2020, though that is still in the works. It did increase the cost of a single plastic bag at a grocery store to $.25, and only permitted stores can give out recycled paper bags (1 Bag At A Time).

These Cities Have Banned Plastic (Or Charge For It)
The Guardian

Los Angeles, California, USA

Once San Francisco made the big change, Los Angeles followed suit. This plastic ban went from one major city to the next. Los Angeles banned plastic bags in larger grocery stores back in 2014. They then expanded the plastic bag ban to smaller stores a few months later. According to The Guardian, the governor of California created a new law. They said, “Under the new law, which California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, signed on Thursday afternoon, the state will have to ensure a 25% drop in single-use plastic by 2032. It also requires that at least 30% of plastic items sold or bought in California are recyclable by 2028, and establishes a plastic pollution mitigation fund.” We’ll see in the next decade if this ban has any positive impacts (The Guardian).

These Cities Have Banned Plastic (Or Charge For It)
The Seattle Times

Seattle, Washington, USA

Washington followed suit with California’s plastic ban in 2012, banning all single-use plastic. In 2018, they took it a step further and banned plastic straws and utensils. According to the Seattle Times, plastic is banned from “All retail, grocery, and convenience stores as well as restaurants, temporary stores or events where food or goods are sold. The Department of Ecology said it will have a reporting form starting Oct. 1, where any person can report a business. The department says it intends to seek voluntary compliance, though businesses that repeatedly violate the rule may face a $250 fine.” If you were a business owner in Seattle, you’d have all eyes on you at all times. If you use paper bags, it must be made of 40% recycled content, and plastic and paper bags must be labeled “reusable.” (Seattle Times).

These Cities Have Banned Plastic (Or Charge For It)

Nairobi, Kenya

Before the plastic ban, stores handed out more than 100 million plastic bags, mainly for shopping customers. Not only was it affecting the environment, but it was impacting the health of marine and animal life. A study determined that 50% of livestock had ingested plastic bags. In 2017, Nairobi, Kenya, banned plastic and imposed hefty fines for their use. Despite this ban and its supposed success, the country was still littered with plastic. However, since the ban, households owned triple the number of reusable bags. The government hopes to instill permanent practices and changes shortly (The Conversation).

These Cities Have Banned Plastic (Or Charge For It)
The Honeycombers

Bali, Indonesia

In 2018, the island of Bali banned single-use plastic bags, styrofoam, and straws. This is an important move in the right direction, especially considering how many tourists visit this island daily. One statement from the girls in Bye Bye Plastic Bags said, “The 23rd of June 2019 marks a big day in history for all of us activists, environmentalists and longtime supporters of the plastic-free movement. It is a day to celebrate as we welcome the long-awaited ban on single-use plastic bags, straws, and polystyrene on our island home, Bali.” The group is making tons of progress on the island, little by little (The Honeycombers).

These Cities Have Banned Plastic (Or Charge For It)

Chicago, Illinois, USA

In 2015, Chicago banned single-use plastic bags in all chain stores. This encompasses chain stores with floor areas over 10,000 square feet. They’re required to provide their customers with reusable bags, recyclable paper bags, or compostable plastic bags. Tanya Triche, who represents small stores in the local council, said, “We’ve heard from stores saying people are not bringing the bag back. This is a lifestyle change – you must be challenged to make that commitment.” And even though it’s challenging and will take some getting used to, it will hopefully change the environment for the better (News).

These Cities Have Banned Plastic (Or Charge For It)
Independent UK

Mumbai, India

India feels the impact of plastic on the ecosystem, especially in its waterways and livestock In 2018, they banned single-use plastic bags. The newly implemented rules, this ban any plastic bags of any shape and size. This also includes bowls, bottles, containers, and anything less than 200ml that’s made of plastic. There’s also a penalty for using plastic, which increases the more you’re caught using it (Times of India).

These Cities Have Banned Plastic (Or Charge For It)

New York City, New York, USA

In 2016, New York City tried to implement a plastic bag fee. Unfortunately, the state government overturned this in 2017. However, in March 2020, NYC revisited this ban and established the Bag Waste Reduction Act. This bans the distribution of plastic bags by anyone who’s required to collect NYS sales tax. Even though it’s not a full-out ban, it’s a start toward a better future, with less plastic (DEC NY).

These Cities Have Banned Plastic (Or Charge For It)
The Guardian

Paris, France

Back in 2016, Paris banned plastic bags. The trend continued and in 2022, they banned single-use plastic packaging on vegetables and fruits. This also includes cucumbers, cabbage, potatoes, apples, pears, and oranges, including many others. By 2040, all of France hopes to completely ban single-use plastic. According to the Environment Ministry, there is an “outrageous amount of single-use plastic in our daily lives.” International campaigners have expressed how much damage plastic is causing to the environment and the ocean (The Guardian).

These Cities Have Banned Plastic (Or Charge For It)
Oregon Live

Portland, Oregon, USA

In 2011, Portland stepped up to the eco-friendly plastic ban and banned plastic bags in all major grocery stores and retailers. Oregon set off a cascade of numerous victories with its plastic ban. It will enact all four plastic pollution reduction policies across the entire state. It aims to target food ware, straws, and bags to reduce consumer use of plastic. This food foamware ban hopes to go into effect by 2025 (Public Interest Network).

These Cities Have Banned Plastic (Or Charge For It)

Toronto, Canada

Back in 2013, Toronto, Canada banned single-use plastic bags. Customers use up to 15 billion plastic checkout bags every year and 16 million straws every day. Canada wants to get ahead of that number and take it down to zero. As of December 2023, they instilled a complete ban on all plastic items like checkout bags, straws, and cutlery to try and address climate change. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, “We promised to ban harmful single-use plastics, and we’re keeping that promise.” Over the next decade, the country hopes to even ban one million garbage bags of trash (CNBC).

These Cities Have Banned Plastic (Or Charge For It)

Tokyo, Japan

Japan took charge of banning plastic in 2020 when Tokyo implemented a plastic bag charge. Although they didn’t outright ban plastic, the charge at least deters people from using plastic bags as much as they used to. They hope to preserve the environment and call their reusable bags “Eco-Bag” or “My Bag.” All stores must charge for the use of plastic bags, but not for reusable bags (Real Estate).

These Cities Have Banned Plastic (Or Charge For It)

Sydney, Australia

In 2021, Sydney implemented a ban on single-use plastic bags, straws, compostable plastics, cutlery, and plastic bowls and plates. The city hopes to encourage people to use their reusable items, like bowls and cutlery and encourages stores to use reusable materials made from bamboo, wood, or sugarcane pulp (City of Sydney).

These Cities Have Banned Plastic (Or Charge For It)

London, United Kingdom

In 2015, London introduced a plastic bag charge. Stores must charge a minimum of 10 pence per plastic bag used. If you do not charge for plastic bags, you’ll likely face a fine. Large retailers must report and record the number of plastic bags they sell in England. Since the ban, there’s been a 98% drop in the use of plastic bags. Environment Minister Steve Double said, “Our plastic bag charge has ended the sale of billions of single-use bags, protecting our landscapes and ensuring millions of pounds is redistributed to worthy causes. There is much more to do to tackle the problem of plastic waste.” This is just the beginning of a plastic-free future (Deframedia).

These Cities Have Banned Plastic (Or Charge For It)
Texas Tribune

Austin, Texas, USA

In 2013, Austin banned single-use plastic bags. Unfortunately, that all changed in 2018. One spokesperson in Austin said, “Following the recent ruling from the Texas Supreme Court, the City will not enforce our current rules. While it’s disappointing that the City is losing a tool to help protect the environment, we are also confident that the Austin community will continue to do their best to minimize plastic bag waste.” It raised the question if the government could raise these types of bans. Many people protested against the ban turnaround (Texas Tribune).

These Cities Have Banned Plastic (Or Charge For It)

Copenhagen, Denmark

Back in 2003, Copenhagen implemented a plastic bag charge for all stores. This has encouraged customers to bring their reusable bags. Minister Lea Wemelin said, “We currently have European records in household waste, and we have to change that… The pace of the green transition is increasing, and plastic pollution is one of the big environmental culprits. We need to recycle and recycle our plastics much more than we do today. The ban on free carrier bags is good for both climate and the environment and an important step in the settlement with a use-and-throw-away culture.” Luckily, many Danes agreed with this change and found it easy to make the transition (Euro Meat News).

These Cities Have Banned Plastic (Or Charge For It)
Edinburgh Live

Edinburgh, United Kingdom

In 2019, Edinburgh banned plastic straws as the first country. Chief Barry Fisher said, “Our data suggests that single-use wooden and bamboo cutlery are now being found littered on some of Scotland’s beaches. Making the change to reusable items is an example of a positive behavior change that both tackles littering and avoids the use of single-use items, no matter what they’re made from. These changes are also a necessary step in improving the places we care for – both land and sea, along with the habitats and wildlife they are home to.” They’ve banned food containers, plates, beverage stirrers, plastic straws, and cutlery (News).

These Cities Have Banned Plastic (Or Charge For It)
The Boston Globe

Boston, Massachusetts, USA

This US city implemented a successful plastic bag ban back in 2019. People living in Massachusetts purchase about 100,000 plastic bottles every single year. With the new order in place, it bans all agencies and executive offices from purchasing plastic water bottles under 21 fluid ounces. Governor Maura Healy said, “Massachusetts has a long history of being first in the nation, and we’re proud to be the first to set long-term targets for biodiversity and to ban state agencies from purchasing single-use plastic bottles.” They’ve also set about making new biodiversity conservation goals for 2030, 2040, and 2050 (PBS).

These Cities Have Banned Plastic (Or Charge For It)

Chennai, India

Back in 2019, Chennai, India implemented a ban on single-use plastic products. This was one of many attempts at curbing the negative impacts of plastic on the environment and health of those in India. Unfortunately, it’s not an easy task. Researcher Sumana Narayanan said, “Implementation is very difficult. The only way one is going to get rid of single-use plastic is to cut off the source. You can’t lose sight of the fact that production of these products is problematic, so until that is done, one cannot seriously make a dent.” That’s why the city of Chennai is working so hard to make this dent (Chennai).

These Cities Have Banned Plastic (Or Charge For It)

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

In some areas of Dubai, the government introduced a ban on single-use plastics. They’re enforcing these rules this year. According to the State News Agency, this includes “food packaging, plastic bottles, cotton sticks, crackers bags, and cigarette butts … wet wipes, balloons, and balloon sticks,” in addition to having “suitable, sustainable and multi-use alternatives in all shopping stores, retail stores, and sales outlets permanently.” There have already been 87 million fewer single-use plastic items since the ban started (The National News).

These Cities Have Banned Plastic (Or Charge For It)

Vancouver, Canada

In 2019, Vancouver banned plastic straws and foam containers. There are minimum fees on paper shopping bags. Even though it’s a small step, it’s still a step in the right direction. Nearly 29,000 tonnes of plastic make its way into the environment every year. The new regulations imposed by the Canadian government prohibit the manufacturing, importation, and sale of plastic, single-use items (Allard).

These Cities Have Banned Plastic (Or Charge For It)

Dhaka, Bangladesh

Back in 2002, Bangladesh banned lightweight plastic bags. They seemed to have started the plastic-banning trend in Asia. They were the first country in the world to ban plastic bags. Unfortunately, despite this ban, the Department of Environment seized 592,223 metric tons of polythene between 2019 and 2021. Syeda Rizwana Hasan, head of the Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA) said, “We have to conduct drives not only in factories but strictly in shopping malls and shops as there are at least 5,000 times more polybags in the market. And, the polythene manufacturing machines are said to be portable or movable, allowing the factory owners to take them away during (government)’s anti-polybags drive.” Unfortunately, it’s going to take them another couple of years to reinforce the ban, once again (AA).

These Cities Have Banned Plastic (Or Charge For It)

Melbourne, Australia

Back in 2019, Melbourne banned lightweight plastic bags, straws, cutlery, cotton bud sticks, and plates. They gave businesses plenty of notice to start preparing for the ban, and to help customers stock up on reusable bags. This ban will prevent five million single-use plastic items from ending up in landfills and littering our planet (Business).

These Cities Have Banned Plastic (Or Charge For It)

Montreal, Canada

Restaurants had to prepare for the single-use plastic ban in 2018. The ban included all compostable plastics, like stirring sticks, straws, and utensils. Restaurant owner Andy Choy said, “I feel like it’s one step forward to helping the planet. It’s something we all wanted to do, all the partners.” More than 8,000 businesses need to transition to paper-based or fiber-based items, so they’re compostable or recyclable (CBC).