20+ Reasons Why Plastic Bags Should Be Banned
Plastic bags are everywhere in our environment. When we go to purchase our groceries, we use plastic bags because they are convenient. In fact, in our modern lives, it has become part of us. However, the convenience of these plastic bags come at a very high cost to the environment and negatively affects human health. Several cities globally have begun banning the use of plastic bags while some have enforced restricted laws against the use of plastic bags because of the negative effects of the use of their usage.
Besides, the use of plastic bags is considered as one of the great issues that humans are facing in their contemporary life. Cities such as China have banned the use of plastics. Bangladesh and India has only banned the use and sale of polythene bags which basically have thickness of less than 50 microns.
Below are some of the 20+ reasons why plastic bags should be banned from our cities.
- Plastic bags do not only pollute our water but also our land. Plastic bags are usually lightweight and as such, they can travel very long distances by either water or wind. Wind blows these plastic bags and trashes a whole area. These litters gets caught up in between trees, fences and floats in water bodies thus moving to the world’s oceans.
- The plastic bags are made from non-renewable sources and on this account, highly contribute to climate change. Most of plastic is made of polypropylene which is a material manufactured from petroleum and natural gas. All of the materials are non-renewable fossil fuel-based materials and through their extraction and even production, greenhouse gases are created which further contribute to global climate change.
- A lot of energy is used in producing these bags. The total amount of energy required to drive a car for one kilometre or 0.5 miles is the equivalent energy required to produce nine plastic bags. It is not rational that these non-renewable resources are used to make plastic bags when the typical useful life of each and every plastic bag is around 12 minutes.
- Plastic bags do not degrade. In truth, petroleum based plastic bags never degrade. Instead of the plastic degrading, it is broken down into small tiny pieces which are swept down and end up in the oceans which are then consumed by wildlife. Currently, there are approximately 46,000-1,000,000 plastic fragments floating within every square mile of the globes oceans.
- Plastic bags are harmful to wildlife and marine life. Birds, animals and marine life such as sea turtles and fish often mistake the plastic bag and other plastic materials for food and consume them. What happens once they consume these plastic materials is that their digestive system gets congested leading to the development of health infections and death when there is suffocation. The animals may also become easily entangled inside the plastic.
- Plastic bags are harmful to human health. There are some chemicals from the plastic bags which can disrupt the normal functioning of hormones in the body. Most plastic fragments in the oceans like plastic bags have some pollutants such as PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyl) together with PAHs (Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) which are hormone disrupting. Once the marine animals consume these chemicals, they move through the food web then later into the humans who consume fish together with other marine animals. The chemical materials bio-accumulates in the sea animals and fish system as they are exposed to them in the ocean waters. When the humans prepare them they consume all these chemicals affecting their healths. They could develop cancers or other serious conditions.
- Plastic bags are expensive and hard to clean or remove from the environment. The amount of plastic bag cleanup is around 17 cents per bag thus in average the taxpayers end up paying around $88 each year just on plastic bag waste. These plastic bags also cost 3-5 cents each. Thus, the plastic considered free is not free after all. Individuals pay a lot to purchase them and even for reusing them. For this reason, plastics should simply be banned.
- Plastic bags have external costs. Several costs are attributed to the production of plastic bags. A prime example is the production and environmental costs.
- Plastic bags are not easy to recycle. Plastic bags are said to present significant challenge in terms of recycling. Recycling facilities do not have the capacity to recycle plastic bags and thus do not accept them. Therefore, the actual recycling rate for plastic bags is around 5%.
- Plastic bags tend to last more; perhaps forever and we even use so many of them. Plastic bags never degrade completely which shows that as more of them are produced by companies, then more are introduced into the environment. Therefore, the more the amount of plastic bags the more there is plastic pollution and its effects. Banning the use of plastic bags will help reduce this great effect.
- Even if we did decide to recycle plastic bags, these materials still do end up in oceans and landfills. Recycling the plastic bags does not affect the fact that they will still be dumped into the environment and end up into either landfills or oceans. These recycled plastic bags are not degradable and cause the same effects as non-recycled plastic bags.
- These plastic bags are impacting the environment negatively in that they are making the Great Pacific garbage patch bigger every minute. Most of the plastic materials once released into the environment find their way into waterways and once they are there they dumped into oceans. Great Pacific Ocean is one such area negatively affected with all the plastic material. The more they are thrown into the oceans the more they increase causing the garbage patch to increase in size.
- Bans should be adopted because they are greatly effective at reducing plastic big waste. China banned plastic bags and four years later, the amount of plastic bags thrown into the environment had reduced by 40 billion. If the US bans plastic bags, there would be fewer landfills.
- Plastic bags help keep our streets clean. Most of our cities are not clean especially Indian and most African country streets because people don’t care to know where they throw their garbage. They do it in water bodies, streets and in the landfills. These wastes litter our streets making them look ugly affecting their aesthetic value.
- It helps spread awareness. When we ban plastic bags, we keep our environment clean and at the same time send some message globally about the importance of environment protection. People learn that banning plastic is for a reason and they can take up such important information. They can subsequently begin to understand that the plastic causes some negative effects and the environment and humans need protection against them.
- With a ban on plastic bags, there would be improved technology which would boost other businesses. With such a ban, the society would be required to produce some more sophisticated bags. A great manpower will be required by the manufacturing factories so they can make eco-friendly and greener materials.
- Banning plastic bags helps save money. These plastics cost a lot of money because the final costs account for the total production costs from their manufacture using petroleum to when they will be thrown away.
- People are ready for the ban and thus, it should be adopted. People have seen how much the plastic bags have adverse effects on their health’s and environment and thus, they have desired and opted for change. This change is the use of eco-friendly materials.
- Through banning plastic bags, the people will learn to support local workers together with green industries.
- People can opt for manufacturing reusable bags so that they create products which are sustainable. Manufacturing reusable bags will create new job opportunities in terms of green manufacturing, research and processing of packaging products.
- Other nations are banning the use of plastic because they have noticed that it is causing harm to the environment and human health. Currently, over 40 nations together with municipalities around the globe have instituted plastic bag bans. Other nations should follow suit to reduce the overall environmental implications.
- UNEP secretariat has recommended a ban on all plastic bags worldwide. This means there are a thousand and one reasons for the ban of plastic bags. If some governments cannot ban them completely, then they can make the people pay heftily for using plastic bags to discourage its usage.
- Through the banning of plastic, cities in various nations can begin to focus on other bigger waste diversion challenges. Cities have had set targets that they are supposed to achieve like in Toronto, Canada where the city council is required to achieve 70% waste diversion by 2010. People cannot achieve the set target because most households do not have green bins. If there is plastic bag bans then city council can place their focus and attention on getting green bins to various apartment buildings and then meeting waste diversion targets.
Image credit: Jonathan , Kate
Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him.
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Plastic Bags Should Be Banned Essay
Five hundred billion used globally and one hundred billion of them end up in U.S. landfills, taking about one thousand years to decompose, but only 5.2 percent were recycled (Borrud, 2007, p.75).-These are the figures plastic bags have produced every year. Human beings invented plastic bags for the convenience of carriers and packers. However, just as other great inventions, say, nuclear energy and biotechnology, plastic bags are causing serious issues like global warming, environment pollution and energy consumption. They are gradually becoming sword towards ourselves. In responding to this problem, the city of San Francisco has become the trail blazer to prohibit non-biodegradable plastic bags in its large supermarkets and pharmacies. Actually, petroleum-based plastic bags should be banned because they consume colossal amount of natural resources and energy, cause inefficient in economics and can badly pollute the environment.
According to Patricia Riedman, plastic bags were celebrating their 30th anniversary of appearance in U.S. supermarkets (2007, p.76). Indeed, they have brought great merits since their debut. People would not have to worry about what if they forget to take their canvas bags to shopping. However, the San Francisco City Council believed that the petroleum-based bags had always ended up littering around and would leave the wildlife in great dangers. In this way, the petroleum-based bags have to respond to their curtain fall finally, and biodegradable plastic bags will take their positions in the future ("100 Billion Reasons," 2007, p.77). As things come in pairs, other cities in U.S. are considering following the steps of San Francisco for miscellaneous reasons.
First of all, petroleum-based bags should be banned because they unnecessarily consume a large amount of energy. Hillary Borrud claims that if half of the annually littered plastic bags can be saved, more than 2,000 barrels will be deducted from the daily oil depletion in California (2007, p.75). In other words, in this era of high oil prices and energy scarcity, petroleum-based bags are costing considerable natural resources, and ultimately turn them into a huge pile of useless garbage. Actually, significant energies like fuel, from which ethylene gas is obtained and plastic bags are made, are nonrenewable, while human beings are still consuming these precious treasures recklessly. What's more, the plastic bags easily catch wind and blow, causing the difficulty of confining it to where disposed of (Borrud, 2007, p.75). This leads to the difficulty in recycling, which hinders the circulation and reuse of the material to a large extent. Moreover, Ross Mirkarimi, the author of the ban, also notes that the only 1% of the plastic bags in San Francisco is recycled, in spite of the city's perfect local recycling system ("100 Billion Reasons," 2007, p.77). People's poor awareness on energy-saving has brought the oil-shortage crisis one step further. A prohibitory edict on...
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