Plastic bags don't biodegrade; they’re expensive and hard to
4.7 million tons of plastic trash reaches the sea each annually
When the small particles from photo-degraded plastic bags get
into the water, they are ingested by filter feeding marine animals. Biotoxins
like PCBs that are in the particles are then passed up the food chain,
including up to humans.
“Plastic trash breaks into billions of
fragments that hover below the surface in
vast, soupy patches in the Atlantic, Pacific
and Indian oceans.” (Wassener)
The “Eastern Garbage Patch” in the Pacific is made up of at
least 80% plastic! And it's about the size of Texas.
Less than 1% of plastic bags are recycled each year. Recycling 1 ton of plastic bags
costs $4K; the recycled product is only worth $32.
(Plastic Bags: and the Legislation to Curb their Usage, Alexandra Wells, July, 2011)
During 2009’s International Coastal Cleanup, the Ocean Conservancy
found that plastic bags were the second-most common kind of waste found, at 1
out of ten items picked up and tallied.
Americans annually produce 300,000 tons of landfill waste solely from plastic bags.
In China alone, “37 million barrels of crude oil” are used each year
to create the 3 billion plastic bags that the Chinese use every day
The state of California spends about 25 million dollars
sending plastic bags to landfill each year, and another 8.5 million dollars to
remove littered bags from streets.
Plastic bags do not biodegrade. Light breaks them down into
smaller and smaller particles that contaminate the soil and water and are
expensive and difficult to remove.6
Less than 1 percent of plastic bags are recycled each year.
Recycling one ton of plastic bags costs $4,000. The recycled product can be
sold for $32.6
The City of San Francisco determined that it costs 17 cents
for them to handle each discarded bag.
After Ireland introduced the PlasTax in 2002, a 15-cent charge per plastic bag in
2002, bag consumption dropped by 90 percent. In 2008, the average person in
Ireland used 27 plastic bags, while the average person in Britain used 220. The
program raised 9.6 millions of euros in revenue
that benefited the environment.
Cited from Plastic Bags:
and the Legislation to Curb their Usage,
Alexandra Wells, NYU Steinhardt
Call to Action:
1. Support legislation that will ban plastic bags in your town, in your state.
Here is one Petitioning Boston City Council to Ban Plastic Bags
2. In the absence of legislation banning plastic bags,
support a Bill levying fee on plastic bags,
like Ireland to reduce their use.
3. Pressure plastic manufacturers to make plastics
with biodegradable products, like lactic acid, etc.
4. Promote the use of re-usable bags
5. Share videos with your friends and family of Ocean Pollution.
Here are a few samples: