“Two years after the bag ban was implemented, the city asked the Austin Resource Recovery group to investigate its effectiveness. Their June 10 report, written by Aaron Waters, states that while the ban was successful in lowering the amount of single-use plastic bags made from high-density polyethylene in city landfills, it was actually worse for the environment overall.
“The amount of single use plastic bags has been reduced, both in count and by weight,” Waters states. “However, in their place, the larger 4 mil [4/1,000ths of an inch] bags have replaced them as the go to standard when the reusable bag is left at home. This reusable plastic bag, along with the paper bag, has a very high carbon footprint compared to the single use bag.”
The 4 mil reusable bags are often made from non-recycled low-density polyethylene and require more resources to manufacture than the single-use bags, Waters explained. Many of the heavier gauge 4 mil bags are also shipped from overseas, which increases their carbon footprint compared to the single-use bags.”