Forget everything you know about promotional bags. A new year is here, bringing with it new developments and trends that could reshape the way you sell. Whether it's unprecedented bag bans or increased consumer demand for fashion and function, the bag market is changing fast. Here's what you need to know to keep up.
The Bag-Ban Boom
For years, the grocery store was virtually off-limits for promotional bag sales. There was paper and there was plastic, and not much in between. Whatever reusable totes or shopping bags stores carried were often sourced directly, and even then accounted for too small a portion of stores' bag inventory to be worth chasing for sales. Even as public demand for all things eco-friendly increased and more cities enacted single-use bag bans, the market changed little for distributors. For the most part, paper and plastic still ruled.
But maybe not for long.
Californians Against Waste, an environmental advocacy organization based in Sacramento, keeps an exhaustive list of municipalities with plastic bag ordinances in place. While most of the 114 cities are located in the western U.S.—and others, like Washington D.C., impose a small fee on plastic bags rather than an outright ban—the list seems to indicate that bag bans are gaining traction on a larger scale.
In June 2013, the Los Angeles City Council passed an ordinance banning single-use plastic bags in large grocery stores, effective January 2014. Los Angeles became the largest U.S. city to adopt such an ordinance, joining major cities such as Seattle, San Francisco and Portland, Ore. Eight states considered or proposed statewide bans in 2013, with 10 others considering bag fees or taxes. Hawaii has banned plastic bags in four of its five counties, resulting in a de facto statewide ban (lone holdout Kalawao County covers just 5.2 square miles and has a population of 90). And while California's most recent statewide ban proposal failed by three votes, legislators are confident a new measure introduced in late January will pass.