Frequently Asked Questions
Who are we?
Bag the Bag is a community-led group of people concerned about our environmental impact. We are working to increase recycling on the UGA campus and have diverted over 3000 bags from the landfill and have received a $4000 grant through the UGA office of sustainability to increase our efforts. We also educate local schools about the environmental impact of single use plastic through interactive upcycling activities. We advocate for a fee on plastic bags in order to reduce consumption of single-use plastics.
Why do we need a fee on single use bags?
According the Athens Clarke County website, each year the U.S. uses 30 billion plastic bags, requiring 14 million barrels of oil. Many of these bags end up as litter and put unnecessary strain on our storm drains and local river networks. The ACC website also estimates that less than 1% of these bags are recycled, and if not recycled properly, they can clog our county's expensive single stream recycling system. Athens needs to be a model city of the South, by offering innovative ways to reducing our petroleum dependency, waste production, and strain on local ecosystems.
How will this affect low-income households?
In order to avoid economic barriers to low-income families, transactions using SNAP, WIC, and other food assistance programs are exempt from the charge. These households may also avoid the charge at the checkout by using reusable bags. A proposed bill should require Athens to work with community organizations to initiate citywide reusable bag giveaways and educational outreach events.
How will this affect small businesses’ bottom line?
Retail and grocery stores affected by the bill would be required to charge a minimum of 5 cents per bag and would keep a portion of the charge in order to cover the cost of supplying plastic, paper, and reusable bags. Currently, these stores pay for bags, but the cost is hidden to the customer. After Los Angeles placed a ban on plastic bags and a 10 cent fee on paper bags, businesses gained on average $6000 annually.
Will consumers choose to shop outside of Athens?
See Los Angeles’s ban on plastic bags and a fee on paper bags: in their follow up reports, stores reported that customers were quick to adapt to the change, while the stores were quick to offer incentives, additional signage, and bag replacements. They reported no notable loss of sales.
I use plastic bags for my trash bags/pet waste/lunch/you name it. How will this affect me?
It is great to reuse when possible, but unfortunately most plastic shopping bags are not reused or recycled. A study from Los Angeles County estimated that only a quarter of plastic bags are used as substitutes for trash bags. People that wish to use and reuse shopping bags as trash bags can purchase them for 5 cents, but it will be more efficient to use dedicated trash bags with a greater capacity than single use shopping bags. Athens Clarke County also provides bags for pet waste at parks and key community locations.
“Implementation of The County of Los Angeles Plastic and Paper Carryout Bag Ordinance,” County of Los Angeles, November 20, 2012, pg 2,