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In recent years, municipalities throughout the United States have considered, and some have instituted, regulations and restrictions on retail grocery and carrier bags in order to promote sustainability and reduce perceived litter problems. At the time of writing of this report, about six percent of the U.S. population was covered by legislation or regulation affecting the selection and use of grocery bags. Such legislation is designed to encourage use of selected carrier bag types and discourage use of other types. Much controversy exists, however, as to whether the various alternatives encouraged by the regulations are environmentally superior solutions.

In light of this trend, the intended application of this study is to provide an objective, data-driven platform upon which decisions about grocery bag use can be made. This study aims to fulfill that goal by making a comparative assertion among the six types of grocery carrier bags studied based on their respective potential environmental impacts, using data appropriate to the United States. Since widespread misconceptions exist among consumers regarding the potential environmental impact of the various bag types, the authors also hope to equip the general public with the information they need to make informed decisions about their own individual bag use. The authors intend to use the results of this study in a comparative assertion to be disclosed to the public, especially legislators and consumers.


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Life Cycle Assessment of Grocery Bags in Common Use in the United States