Should Disposable Single Use Plastic Bags Be Banned?

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There has been much talk in the recent decade about banning disposable plastic bags.  The basic argument is that consumer grade disposable single use plastic bags are the root cause widespread environmental damage but have ready alternatives, so why are will still using them?

As is often the case with political issues, there is no simple answer to the question “Should single use plastic bags be banned?”.  Below are some of the facts and you can decide for yourself if this is a crisis or not:

ARGUMENTS AGAINST SINGLE USE PLASTIC BAGS

  • Australian scientists found that 90% of seabirds had plastic in their digestive tract
    • 85% of ‘ocean garbage’ is plastic
    • In March of 2018, Canadian Environment Minister Catherine McKenna claimed that there is the equivalent of one full dump truck load of plastic materials being dumped in the ocean every minute of every day
  • Plastic bags are made from non-renewable material
  • Single use plastic bags account cost about $.04 each to buy new and it is estimated the clean up cost is about $.15 per bag, resulting in a total cost to the consumer of more than $80 per year
  • Plastic bags often get caught in recycling machinery so currently less than 10% of them are recycled
  • Plastic bags can attract PCB’s which cause serious reproductive problems for animals that ingest them
  • It takes about the same amount of energy to produce a single plastic bag as it does to drive a car a quarter of a kilometer
  • When plastic bags are banned it sends a signal to consumers to think about the environment in other areas of their life

ARGUMENTS FOR SINGLE USE PLASTIC BAGS:

  • A University of Pennsylvanian Study showed that there are serious health risks relating to with reusable bags
    • “especially from coliform bacteria including E. coli, which were detected in half of the bags sampled.”
  • A Mercatus Center report indicated that reusable plastic bags may actually increase global warming because they are thicker and require more material.
  • The same investigation reported that compared to paper grocery bags, plastic grocery bags:
    • consume 40 per cent less energy,
    • generate 80 per cent less solid waste,
    • 70 per cent fewer atmospheric emissions
    • release up to 94 per cent fewer waterborne wastes
  • It is estimated that reusable plastic bags need to be reused more than 100 times before they have a net positive effect
    • While we are sure some bags last that long, we do not know of any in our group
  • According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, disposable plastic bags consume just 0.28% of US land fills
  • Plastic bag bans are expensive to implement because they require another layer of government enforcement, investigation, and not least, advertising
  • Bag Bans are often politically unpopular because citizens don’t like being told what to do by the ‘educated elite’ politicians in City Councils, State/Provincial/Federal governments

 WHAT IS THE LAW IN OTHER PLACES?

  • In December of 2017 the United Nations Environmental Program recommended a ban on all plastic bags worldwide
  • 40 Countries already have federal laws to reduce the use of plastic bags but Canada and United States do not
  • Toronto failed to pass a ban on Plastic Bag use in 2012
  • Montreal’s plastic bag ban in January of 2018
  • Victoria BC will have a plastic bag ban in place by the summer of 2018
  • About 250 US cities and towns have plastic bag bans or taxes in place including Washington DC that has adds a $.05 tax to the sale of each plastic bag
  • Great Britain saw an 85% drop in plastic bag usage after implementing a 5 pence (about CDN$.07) minimum charge for plastic bags
  • Ireland saw about a 90% drop in plastic bag usage after implementing a massive $.40 tax on plastic bags, reducing the number of bags from 328 to just 14 per person per year
  • China banned plastic bags about 10 years ago, but does not enforce the regulation

Sources:

Comments

  1. Chandra prakash Gupta August 25, 2018 at 6:36 am

    Very useful website….

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