Presentation on theme: " After many months of study, a ban on the distribution of non-biodegradable plastic carryout bags has been proposed. These bags are typically made."— Presentation transcript:
After many months of study, a ban on the distribution of non-biodegradable plastic carryout bags has been proposed. These bags are typically made of polyethylene (HDPE, LDPE, and LLDPE), and come from fossil fuels. The proposal, if enacted would not limit other types of bags, such as those used in a market’s vegetable aisle, gift boxes, or cloth bags, etc.
Inadvertent litter Rarely recycled Deadly to animals Displace food supplies in marine environments Bonds to toxins and heavy metals Made from fossil fuels
Plastic bags are easily transported by the wind and water. They are so aerodynamic that even when properly disposed of, they often blow away and become litter. Plastic bags are a unique form of litter in that they can end up tangled in trees, which cause visual blight among other problems. Bags easily escape from the garbage truck, landfill, boat, and average consumer’s hands – and are then carried into lakes and waterways, and eventually into the ocean. Plastic bags make up the third largest type of litter from land-based sources found on U.S. coasts.
Although this is not an issue of recycling, they rarely recycled due to their low value – only 5.2% of our plastic bags are recycled. Even if the recycling rate were significantly increased, the end result would still have an unacceptable negative impact.
Plastic bags harm wildlife. The bags are often mistaken as food by both domesticated and wild animals. Birds may also use them for nesting material with dangerous results. Millions of marine animals die per year by ingesting plastic bags. These animals suffer a painful death, the plastic wraps around their intestines or they choke to death. Plastic bags choke, strangle, and entangle turtles, whales, sea lions, seals, birds, and fish among other species. Many of these animals are already threatened due to issues such as over fishing or habitat loss. The list of local animals threatened by plastic bags includes green turtles that nest on Nantucket and the right whales that feed off the Massachusetts coast line.
Plastic bags do not biodegrade they just fracture into smaller and smaller bits called “microplastics.” through mechanical action and photodegradation in the presence of light, these processes are slow taking an estimated 200+ years to complete. When an animal is killed by a plastic bag, the bag may go on to kill again. Microplastics present the greatest long-term danger, as these particles displace food supplies in the world’s oceans. As they have a nearly identical density of seawater, their removal is not possible. Once microplastics enter our oceans, they will stay there forever, pushing many species into extinction. Microplastics also bond with toxins, thus concentrating highly toxic and pervasive pesticides and pollutants (such as PCBs, DDE, DDT, and bis(p-chlorophenyl)-1-1 trichloroethane) that move up the food chain and onto our dinner tables.
Microplastics are known to concentrate toxic pollutants which have previously been washed into our oceans – including DDT and PCBs – up to one million times background levels. Current research findings demonstrate that the toxins bound to ingested microplastics are actually transferred into the animals that ingest them. The animals in question – lugworms – showed clear reactions to these toxins, and in some cases even died as a result. Another study has also been published, showing similar results in small fish, where ingestion of microplastics laden with toxins resulted in liver damage.
Polyethylene plastic bags are made from non- renewable fossil fuels, usually from natural gas. Over 1/3 of natural gas comes from fracking. This is expected to reach 50% in 20 years. Nearly 100 billion plastic shopping bags used each year in the United.
Plastic bags wash into storm drains and interfere with drainage. Incidents of flooding have prompted some countries to ban plastic bags. Municipalities are forced to clean storm drains with greater frequency, increasing costs.
Reusable bags No bag, thank you! Paper bags Bioplastics
The best alternative is a reusable bag. Reusable bag use increases when a plastic carryout bag ban is introduced. Paper may have a higher CO2 footprint – but only when made from virgin material. Requiring 70%+ recycled content greatly decreases the CO2 footprint. Paper has never asphyxiated or strangled wildlife, never resulted in damage to our oceans’ ecosystems. Allowing biodegradable bags is an option.