National bans and laws regulating the use of plastic bags
Bangladesh - Has banned very thin plastic bags, afterit was found that the bags had clogged up the drainage system, exacerbating deadly floods.
Belgium - Considers following the example of Ireland and introduce a charge.
China - Has banned very thin plastic bags.
European Union - Is considering introducing better ways of labelling biodegradable and compostable bags. Compostable bags only biodegrade in industrial composting plants. Biodegradable bags will biodegrade in the natural environment, but come in different types:
- Those made of corn will biodegrade in a landfill environment, but while doing so they produce methane, a powerful global warming gas
- Another type of bag is oxo-biodegradable, which will biodegrade if exposed to air or water, but not in landfill
Germany - Considers following the example of Ireland and introduce a charge.
Ireland - Introduced a charge of 15 euro cents (20 US cents) per bag in 2002, which led to a 95% reduction in plastic bag litter. Within a year, 90% of shoppers were using long-life bags. The levy was raised to 22 cents in 2007, after evidence showed that the number of plastic bags used annually had risen from 21 per person immediately after the ban to 30 (compared with 328 previously). By 2012, the government had raised 75m euros ($99m) from the levy, which was put into an Environment Fund and used to reduce waste or research new ways of recycling.
Italy - Became the first country in Europe to ban non-biodegradable single-use plastic bags (in 2011).
Kenya - Has banned very thin plastic bags.
Mozambique - is encouraging to bring own bag. Depends on individual shopkeepers approach. No real government policy to this.
Netherlands (the) - Considers following the example of Ireland and introduce a charge.
Norway - Considers following the example of Ireland and introduce a charge.
Ruanda - Has banned plastic bags altogether.
Somalia - Has banned plastic bags altogether.
South Africa - Has banned very thin plastic bags.
South Sudan -
Spain - Considers following the example of Ireland and introduce a charge.
Tanzania - Has banned plastic bags altogether.
Uganda - Has banned very thin plastic bags.
UK - might introduce a ban after reports that the use of carrier bags in the UK had risen by 5% in 2010, after four years of decline. Wales introduced a levy of 5p (six euro cents, eight US cents) per bag last in 2011 and Northern Ireland will do so in 2013. Wales also threatens shops that continue to give out bags free of charge with a £5,000 fine.
United Arab Emirates - will bring in a ban on all non-biodegradable bags in 2013 following concerns about pollution and the risk to camels and other animals,
US - local laws muddy the picture. (example: The city of Los Angeles doesn't have a ban but Los Angeles county does, This leads to a lot of confusion. You can go to one supermarket and they will have bags and a few miles down the road they're banned.)
The term biodegradable is often misleading, which prompted a bill recently signed into law in California prohibiting the sale of most plastic products labelled as 'biodegradable' unless the claim includes a disclaimer.