Anti-plastic bag activists are constantly trying to blame plastic bags for all litter.
According to a press report, former California Assembly Member Lloyd Levine has claimed that "[t]he state spends $300 million cleaning up bags -- getting them off the beaches and out of the storm drains." If Assembly Member Levine did in fact make this statement, it is incorrect by his own admission. On his website (which no longer exists) he said that the state spends $303.2 million on all litter cleanup from beaches and state highways, not just plastic bags.
Heal the Bay claims that “Plastic bags have become so ubiquitous that public agencies in Los Angeles County collectively spend $18 million annually to clean up plastic bag litter.” In fact, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works and the Flood Control District spends $18 million per year on streetsweeping, catch basin cleanouts, cleanup programs, and litter prevention and education efforts. That includes all types of litter and cleaning generally, not just plastic bags.
In an op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times, two Los Angeles County Supervisors, Yvonne Burke and Zev Yaroslavsky, state:
About $375 million is spent in California on cleanups and other efforts to mitigate the environmental effect of disposable bags, costing each household about $200.
What nonsense! The population of California is 36.4 million. $375 million divided by 36.4 million is $10.30 per person. Are we to assume that each household has 20 people?
The Supervisors do not state in the article how the $375 million figure is calculated, but it is apparently the entire California litter cleanup budget - not just for plastic bags, but for everything. Why are they pinning the entire state litter cleanup budget on plastic bags?