Plastic bags are either restricted or completely banned in more than 25 percent of the world. Belgium, Italy (total ban since January 1, 2011), Ireland, and Hong Kong have legislation discouraging the use and encouraging the recycling of plastic bags by imposing a fixed or minimum levy for the supply of plastic bags or obliging retailers to recycle. In other jurisdictions, including Bangladesh, South Africa, Thailand, and three states/territories of Australia, plastic bags are banned. The plastic bag levy introduced in Ireland in 2002, resulted in a reduction of over 90% in the issuing of plastic shopping bags. The "ban on free plastic bags" in China introduced in 2008 resulted in a reduction by two thirds.
In the United States bans were imposed at the local level starting with San Francisco in 2007. In 2008 Westport, Connecticut banned plastic bags in grocery stores. In 2009 Edmonds, Washington banned plastic bags at retail stores. In 2010 Los Angeles County, Brownsville, Texas, and Bethel, Alaska approved similar bans. In the first few months of 2011 bans went into effect in North Carolina's Outerbanks Region banning all plastic bags at all retailers. Similar bans at municipality level were imposed in India, Mexico, and the UK. In the United States, the California legislature rejected a 25-cent bag tax in June 2009. In August 2009, Seattle voters rejected a 20-cent bag tax previously approved by city leaders. A five-cent tax levied on plastic bags in Washington, DC in January 2010 resulted in a decrease in consumption from 22.5 million to 3 million bags in the first month alone.