Last year, the General Assembly overrode Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of a bill that would, among other things, end a questionably constitutional and ultimately ineffective ban on retailers using plastic bags in the Outer Banks.

(It bears repeating that in repealing the ban, the law did not impose a mandate that retailers use plastic bags if they dislike them. The repeal restored their choice in offered consumer good conveyance.)

Plastic bags are far better for the environment than paper or cotton

New research from the Danish Environmental Protection Agency sought “to identify the grocery carrier bag with the best environmental performance to be provided in Danish supermarkets.” Researchers made the perhaps surprising finding that “the lifecycle environmental impact” of plastic bags (low-density polyethylene, or LDPE) was significantly lower than that of paper or cotton.

As noted by Bjorn Lomborg, the Danish EPA’s findings required paper bags be reused dozens of times and cotton bags be reused thousands of times for them to be better than a single reuse of a plastic bag:

  • Paper bag: 43 reuses
  • Regular cotton bag: 7,100 reuses
  • Organic cotton bag: 20,000 reuses