The End of Plastic Bags?

Like many other cities, Los Angeles has now banned single-use plastic bags and so became the largest US city to do so. Bags will have to be phased out in twelve months, while paper bags can remain but will not be free of charge.

Plastic bags pose a serious threat to wildlife as they can mistake it for food – for instance turtles can eat them instead of jelly fish, which can lead to serious health problems or even death. And there is now the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is mainly made up of the remains of plastic bags. From an economic point of view, it costs a lot of money to remove them from our streets or from sewage systems – where they can cause significant problems. Also, most plastic bags cannot be recycled, and they are made of non-renewable petroleum, while they only disintegrate into smaller pieces but can never be destroyed totally.

According to a spokesperson within the industry however plastic bags are ‘sustainable’ and ‘low energy’, the problem is their irresponsible use. The recent ban in Los Angeles was debated by other market players claiming that it would cause job cuts at factories.

Plastic bags are already banned in many places – including China, California or parts of Texas, while others charge tax on them. In many of these regions paper bags are used, which are on the other hand widely made of recycled materials and can be themselves recycled after usage. These paper bags may even hold more than an average plastic bag.

Plastic bags seem to have been phased out in more and more cities and countries, but where it hasn’t been done yet, we can phase them out of our life ourselves – by taking our own, preferably textile, bags shopping or avoiding extra packaging.

Written for the Energy Saving Warehouse

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