Plastic Bag Ban?
San Francisco has banned plastic shopping bags. Same with Oakland, and Malibu. And Los Angeles just may be next. There’s a bill in front of California State legislators to tax plastic bags at a rate of 25 cents each. If that doesn’t go through, the LA City Council says they’ll put a ban in place. I’ve written to the mayor and city council members of my city (we’re in the county of Los Angeles, but Westlake Village is its own city) to express my support for a ban. Our mayor e-mailed me back to say that it’s something they’re seriously considering. Halleluah! Of course, I would love it if people would see the problem for themselves and voluntarily switch over to reusable cloth bags. But I don’t see that happening any time soon. Every time I go to the market I am faced with cart after cart of plastic bags leaving the store. And the worst offenders are those who say “paper IN plastic” – they get their groceries in a paper bag and then put the paper bag in a plastic bag so they have the handles. Puh-leeeeeze! If you’re not convinced, here are some stats I garnered online:
Data released by the United States Environmental Protection Agency shows that somewhere between 500 billion and one trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide each year.
Fewer than 1% of bags are recycled. It costs more to recycle an old bag than to produce a new one.
There�s harsh economics behind plastic bag recycling: �It costs $4000 to process and recycle 1 ton of plastic bags, which can then be sold on the commodities market for $32.�
Director, San Francisco Department of the Environment It costs California taxpayers about $25 million a year to collect and dispose of plastic bags, according to Californians Against Waste. Where do old plastic bags go? A study in 1975 showed oceangoing vessels dumped 8 million pounds of plastic annually. The real reason the world�s landfills weren�t overflowing with plastic was because most of it ended up in an ocean-fill.
-U.S. National Academy of Sciences Bags get blown around to different parts of our lands, seas, lakes and rivers. Bags find their way into the ocean via drains and sewage pipes.
-CNN.com Plastic bags have been found floating north of the Arctic Circle and as far south as the Falkland Islands.
-British Antarctic Survey Plastic bags account for over 10 percent of the debris washed up on the U.S. coastline.
-National Marine Debris Monitoring Program Plastic bags photodegrade: over time they break down into smaller, more toxic petro-polymers which contaminate soils and waterways. As a consequence, microscopic particles can enter the food chain.
-CNN.com The effect of all this is catastrophic. Birds become terminally entangled. Nearly 200 different species of sea life, including whales, dolphins, seals and turtles die due to plastic bags. They die after ingesting plastic bags which they mistake for food.
-World Wildlife Fund Report Canvas bags are a good solution to this problem. When we use a canvas bag we can save 6 bags a week, or 24 bags a month. That�s 288 bags a year � EACH! In a lifetime, that�s an average of 22,176 bags. If just 1 out of 5 people in the United States switched to canvas bags, we would save 1,330,560,000,000 plastic bags over our lifetime. -Plastic bags are banned in Bangladesh and in Rwanda.
-Free plastic bags are banned in China.
-Ireland taxes plastic bag use and has reduced their consumption by 90%.
-Australia, Israel, Canada, India, Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Taiwan, and Singapore have also banner or are moving toward banning plastic bags.
-PlanetSave.com On March 27, 2007, San Francisco became the first U.S. city to ban plastic bags. Oakland has also banned them. Malibu just banned them, and many other cities are following suit.
-NPR.org Plastic shopping bags are made from polyethylene: a thermoplastic made from oil. Reducing plastic bags will decrease foreign oil dependency. China will save 37 million barrels of oil each year due to their ban of free plastic bags.