Thursday, January 24, 2008

Plastic Bags: The Impacts to the Environment

Today sustainability for future brings news concerning the environmental impacts of plastic bags and the quantity of plastic bags that we have used annually.

I can understand the convenient of using plastic bags. They are cheap and durable. However, do you know their negative impact towards the environment? Among the adverse effects are clogging the drains, filling the landfill, and choking wildlife. Our nature also needs 400 to 1000 years to break them down, and even after those periods, some chemicals may still remain in the environment.

Plastic bags also use lots of irreplacable natural sources. Crude oil, natural gas, and other petrochemical derivatives are the ingredients for makin plastic bags. It is estimated that 12 million barrels of oil are needed to produce plastic bags and this is in the US alone.

Fortunately, some countries have made steps to counter this problem. Taiwan and Uganda have banned the use of plastic bags. Australia will start to reduce the usage in the end of 2008 and China plans to do the same in mid of 2008. Countries and cities in Europe has put fees if you want to use plastic bags. For example, in Ireland, the usage of plastic bags have reduced by 90% because government imposes fee to customers who want to use plastic bags.

Therefore, it is necessary for the US to follow this bold step, especially because US is one of the biggest users of plastic bags. There are some good initiatives that have been implemented, such as recycling program and offering paper bags instead of plastic. Even San Fransisco has banned plastic bags. However, the US needs to do a more radical step and make regulations to solve this issue.

If you want to see more information concerning this news, please visit In U.S., plastic shopping bag still rules.

1 comment:

A&E said...

Using plastic bags is a huge problem. In some countries, people use the plastic bags as portable bathrooms. The bags are then just left where used and the wind picks them up and carries them - wherever.

Since our government isn't really doing anything, it's up to us, up to citizens to pressure the supermarkets to implement recycle programs and offer alternative bags. But I think it's up to us to make the change.