What is the best solution to the plastic bag epidemic? | Waste Wise Products
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What is the best solution to the plastic bag epidemic?

A large pile of discarded plastic bags

The environmental effects of disposed plastic bags have been well documented, from clogging the oceans to killing wildlife which accidentally consume it. A number of solutions have been proposed, each with its advantages and disadvantages.

Ban Plastic Bags

Some communities have banned plastic bags, forcing people to use paper bags, reusable canvas bags, or biodegradable plastic bags. Critics of this solution maintain that the amount of energy and resources that it takes to manufacture alternatives to plastic outweigh the cost of manufacturing plastic. Also, unless they are washed regularly, canvas bags can be carriers of disease.

Recycle Plastic Bags

Recycling has been touted as a solution, as well. Many grocery stores the United States & Canada have recycle bins where shoppers can deposit their used plastic bags. But participation is scanty at best in many cases. Many people forget to bring their plastic bags back, or dismiss returning their recycling as an inconvenience.

Plastic Bag Tax

One solution that has been touted is to institute a plastic bag tax, charging shopper a nominal fee for every plastic bag used. The Republic of Ireland instituted just such a tax. A study by Ireland’s Department of the Environment has shown a 93.5% reduction in the use of plastic bags.

The Resuseit site relates some of the facts concerning world-wide use of plastic bags. Roughly a trillion single use plastic bags are used every year, each of which takes a 1,000 years to biodegrade. The issue of plastic bags and the environment is a vexing one. On the one hand, plastic bags are a great convenience, cheap, and readily disposable. On the other hand, they are a hazard for the environment in many ways.


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