In the time you need to read this, millions of plastic bags will be produced. And we havenâ€™t even mentioned the amount of oil needed to do this. A study by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) in 2008 showed that only 6.8% of all plastic waste is recycled. But what happens to the other 93.2% ?
Eighty per cent of floating waste in oceans and lakes is comprised of plastic, and this forms a major threat to aquatic wildlife. Many turtles mistake plastic bags for jellyfish and eat them. Birds and fish too ingest plastic particles or become (fatally) entangled in plastic bags. The waste doesnâ€™t clear itself up: it takes around 1,000 years for polythene (plastic) to become fully biologically degraded. Various bodies have already stated that thin plastic bags should be banned immediately. Luckily, some governments now also recognise the seriousness of this problem.
In China some 3 billion plastic bags were used every day, and the waste belts in China were beginning to look like white mountains due to all the discarded plastic. In response to this, the Chinese government took measures to prevent the use of plastic bags. Besides China, the governments of Australia, Bangladesh, Ireland, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Taiwan, Uganda and several cities in the United States (including San Francisco) have also taken successful measures for reducing the use of plastic bags.