Same here. I wonder if instead of a heavy handed approach like banning plastic bags, perhaps stores could be asked to enable customers to reuse, return, and/or recycle their plastic bags.
The ocean pollution issues are largely due to the third world (parts of Asia in particular) that lacking landfill space, just dump their trash in the ocean. Indiscriminate ocean dumping was common practice in NYC until NJ sued to get it to stop (way back in the 1920). Everything from melon rinds to dead horses were washing up on the NJ shore... which was bad for business.
The reusable bags are not the most sanitary thing in the world and have been linked to an increase in food poisoning.
We do have a litter issue in Jersey City. This is a cultural problem. We will just replace plastic with paper trash. Plastic grocery bags btw actually break down faster than paper, when exposed to sunlight (UV). If trash is being properly disposed of, being made of plastic, paper, or fairy dust isn't going to be an issue.
Recycling of plastic an industry in crisis mode right now. A lot of what is being collected is being put into landfills or incinerated. China absorbed about 60% of all the plastic collected in the world for recycling. They pretty much banned the importation of scrap plastic (and a lot of paper) starting this January. The recycling industry was causing them all sorts of major environmental issues.
Its easier / cheaper / cleaner to make new plastic, with the raw material sources here in the USA (made from cracking ethane, which we have lots of in the Marcellus and Utica shale deposits).