Plastic Bags: Are they really that bad?

plastic_bagsBy Claire

The ACTs plastic bag ban has been in place for a year now and the world hasn’t come to an end (despite claims to to contrary).

The effectiveness of the ACT’s plastic bag ban has yet to be properly evaluated, with a report due out in the next month or so. This report will address claims that sales of plastic bin liners has increased dramatically in response to the banning of single-use plastic bags.

I actually live in NSW, where plastic bags are still allowed, and I do keep forgetting to bring my own bags when I shop in the ACT. (I do still try to remember to bring my own bags even when shopping in NSW. I have a plastic bag bag that is threatening to explode all over the kitchen floor though. I only need so many bin liners!)

As expected, the behaviour of ACT residents has changed in response to the ban, with customers now used to bringing their own bags to the supermarket.

While we have done our bit to limit the number of plastic bags being sent to land fill, globally, 1 trillion plastic bags are still used each year (a trillion = 1 million million!!).

The following infographic was brought to my attention by one of our readers. It comes from a website titled, “Suffocating the World,” and looks at the use and impact of plastic bags.

Suffocating-the-World

6 responses to “Plastic Bags: Are they really that bad?

  1. Isn’t burying plastic bags one of the more cost-effective ways of sequestering carbon and diverting petroleum products from the fuel cycle?

    • Plastic bags in landfill can’t really be thought of as a viable solution to sequester carbon. The carbon used to make the bags has to be dug up, processed, shipped, used and dumped before it is sequestered, so you have still produced a lot more carbon than you sequester in landfill.
      Plus, there are the bags that don’t make it to landfill and just become rubbish within the environment.

  2. That is unbelievable. Thanks for sharing – we really need to get this info out there. Anyone who has had the unfortunate task of working on a landfill (like me!) knows how damaging plastic bags are… they get blown into forests, run down streams, tangle up birds, you name it. It’s super infuriating. What are your thoughts on how to get plastic bag bans for the rest of Australia?

    • I hope that once other states start to see how successful bag bans have been in SA and the ACT, then they’ll consider implementing them in their own states. I’ve read rumours that TAS is looking to implement a bag ban at some stage, and maybe NSW too (although I could be making that up).
      The ACT and SA have shown that it’s possible to implement a ban without dire consequences for businesses, so that’s certainly a positive step.
      The key is changing peoples’ attitudes and then trying to move that to change peoples’ behaviour.
      I don’t think that banning bags altogether is a completely unrealistic goal.

  3. I agree plastic bags are horrible for the environment. But I believe recycled plastic is the one of the best solution to the environmental challenges we are facing too.

  4. Plastic bags are horrible for the environment. But I believe recycled plastic is the one of the best solution to the environmental challenges we are facing too.

    Garden panel

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