Is It Time For a Worldwide Ban on Single-use Plastic Bags?

Let me state for the record, that with few exceptions, I do not like governmental bans or restrictions on personal behavior. That means the number of ounces of soda one can drink, or the amount on salt or kind of light bulbs that can be used; all should be off limits to the nosey bureaucrats’ intent on controlling every aspect of our daily lives.
There are, however, exigent circumstances when the harm being done is so massive that intervention in the form of bans is necessary. So it is with the worldwide pollution caused by the indiscriminate use of plastics for convenience rather than necessity.
Unlike climate change, very few are challenging the reality of the plastic trash and debris crisis. Estimates of single-use plastic bags range from 500 billion to 1 trillion bags worldwide every year. Virtually no corner of the globe has been left uncovered by plastic trash. Very few pristine locations remain unsullied.
Whether we are talking about whales off the coast of Spain , cows in India, or camels in the Egyptian desert or monkeys in East Java, globally many thousands of animals die ingesting plastics and then dying of starvation every year.
The Blue Danube is loaded with more trash than fish. Mount Everest is a mountain of trash and garbage. It is estimated that 80 to 90 percent of ocean pollution comes directly from plastics in the form of plastic bags, toothbrushes, containers of every shape and description, toys, and bottles. Time Magazine covered The Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 2012, one of the Five Gyres circulating in the oceans.

When Rolling Stone covered the Plastic Bag Wars in 2011, they noted that American shoppers used 102 billion plastic bags yearly. That figure has gone up to 380 billion bags yearly. It is very easy for a family of four to go through 500 plastic bags a year. Remember these are bags designed to last forever and are only used for 15 minutes or less on average.

With all this plastic being produced every year, you’d better believe manufacturers are fighting back using intimidation and litigation in their arsenal of tactics.

Why should you care?

  1. Plastic never goes away. Every piece of plastic produced in the last 50 years still exists unless it was recycled.
  2. 93% of Americans aged six or older have tested positive for BPA, a cancer causing chemical used in plastics.
  3. The search for lost Malaysian flight 370 has been hampered by the global marine litter crisis, as reported by CNN.
  4. The Plastic Bag Report lists 27 states, multiple countries, 102 cities in California and EU with complete bag bans or bans in various stages of legislation.
  5. The list of species testing positive for plastic in their bodies is growing, including 44 percent of all birds, 22 percent of cetaceans and turtles.

A better question is what kind of world do you want to leave to future generations? We are after all only as good as what we leave behind. As Captain Charles Moore notes we should be living our lives like it matters.

 

 

 

The City of Los Angeles is saying NO to plastic bags

PLASTIC WORLD 3

The Los Angeles City Council recently gave approval to an ordinance that will ban single use plastic bags. The ban will be effect beginning in January of 2014 for large retailers. Smaller businesses will be expected to comply beginning in June of 2014.

The bag ban makes Los Angeles the largest city in the country to ban the ubiquitous plastic bag. This is great news for activists worldwide. In addition to saving the environment the ban is projected to save Los Angeles $2 million a year in clean up costs of  plastic litter.

In an effort to help low-income families, Los Angeles is planning  to give out 1 million reusable bags in low-income areas.

San Francisco, Laguna Beach, and Santa Monica already have plastic bag bans in place.

Mark Murray, Executive Director of Californians Against Waste, said in a statement, “By 2014, more than one-third of Californians — 13 million people — will live in communities that no longer have to deal with the scourge and cost of single use plastic grocery bags,” 

Poll: Is There a Plastic Bag Ban Coming to a City Near You?

Cities across the country are resorting to bans as a way to reduce the impact and harmful effects of single-use plastic bag. Los Angeles joins San Francisco, Toronto, Westport, Connecticut and the State of Hawaii, all with single-use bans in place.

In May 2012, Los Angeles became the largest city in the nation to approve the banning of single-use plastic bags at supermarket checkout lines. The ban will be phased in over the next 16 months. Shoppers will need to bring reusable bags or purchase paper bags for 10 cents each.

Cities that have instituted these bans have seen a dramatic decrease in the damage single-use plastic bags cause our environment. How do you feel?

More & More Reasons to Say No to Plastics

There are more and more reasons to Say No to Plastics. Most single-use plastic bags are used an average of 12 minutes by U.S. consumers, yet their real life span, unless recycled, is many hundreds of years. The plastic trash building up in our oceans is a ticking time bomb.

The statistics below are from a recent Huff Post Green article which asks, “Did you just eat a plastic bag?” For a more complete look view it here.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency reports the following data on plastic products in the American municipal waste stream for 2008 alone:

1. Plastic Plates and Cups: 780,000 tons were produced, and all 780,000 tons were discarded.
2. Plastic Trash Bags: 930,000 tons were produced, and all 930,000 were discarded.
3. Plastic Bags, Sacks and Wraps: 3,960,000 tons were produced. 9.8% was recovered (390,000). 3,570,000 tons were discarded.
4. “Other” non-durable goods including plastic disposable diapers, footwear and clothing: amounted to 4,810,000 tons produced with all 4,810,000 tons discarded.
5. PET Bottles and Jars: 2,680,000 tons were produced, 27.2 % were recovered (730,000 tons) and 1,950,000 tons were discarded.
6. HDPE (white translucent homopolymer bottles): 750,000 tons were produced, and 29.3 % (220,000 tons) were recovered. 530,000 tons were discarded.
7. “Other Plastic Packaging” including coatings, closures, lids, caps, clam shells, egg cartons, produce baskets, trays, shapes, and loose fill: 3,720,000 tons were produced. 3% (110,000 tons) were recovered, and 3 Million 610 Thousand Tons were discarded.

 

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