It takes over 500 years for a plastic bag to decompose and much of its contents do not decompose, but they become micro-plastics that acquire toxins and continue to pollute the environment.
According to the Center for Biological Diversity, “Americans use 100 billion plastic bags a year! It takes 12M barrels of oil to produce them. Plastic bags kill 100,000 Marine animals a year.” While the bags are cheap and convenient their environmental stake is a huge liability. “It takes over 500 years for a plastic bag to decompose and much of its contents do not decompose, but they become microplastics that acquire toxins and continue to pollute the environment. “
Currently, 13 municipalities in the Palmetto state have plastic bag bans. The majority are coastal areas, but Arcadia Lakes in Richland County is among the first inland communities to join Beaufort County (Bluffton, Hilton Head, Beaufort), Charleston, Folly Beach, and Sullivan’s Island. South Carolina legislators have been wrestling with a ban of the ban’s, or a compromise bill with what appears to be no resolution in the current legislative year.
Since it’s inception Folly Beach, has seen a drop in plastic bag clean up by 80%. California, NY and HI have state bans on plastic bags along with cities like Boston, Seattle, Chicago, Los Angeles and Seattle. Several other state legislatures have introduced proposed legislation on plastic pollution while several are wrestling with preemptive legislation to push back against municipalities passing local plastic bag ordinances. The issue will continue to be hotly debated within legislative branches as plastic bag manufacturers and small business lobbies for the cheaper alternative.
The Center for Biological Diversity has identified plastic in our oceans as a global crisis:
We’re surrounded by plastic. It’s in the single-use packaging we discard, the consumer goods that fill our stores, and in our clothing, which sheds micro-plastic fibers in the wash.
In the first decade of this century, we made more plastic than all the plastic in history up to the year 2000. And every year, billions of pounds of more plastic end up in the world’s oceans. Studies estimate there are now 15–51 trillion pieces of plastic in the world’s oceans — from the equator to the poles, from Arctic ice sheets to the sea floor. Not one square mile of ocean surface anywhere on earth is free of plastic pollution.
In addition to ocean waters, plastic bags clog sewers and wastewater treatment facilities. Farmer’s battle plastic bags frequently with equipment jams and wildlife are affected by the increasing free flow of bags blowing across the country from parking lots, parks, and rest areas.
How can you help? Use reusable (canvass, vinyl, cloth) bags for your shopping trips. Instead of plastic ask for paper bags and recycle them. It is estimated that only 1% of plastic bags are actually returned for recycling. If your company has a recycling program, or service suggest that employees bring in their bags once a month for recycling.
Pinnacle Environmental Services, Inc., helps companies with waste disposal, waste recycling, energy recovery, environmental consulting and more. We are confident in our ability to implement cleaner, greener innovations into your operations, making better use of resources and minimizing waste, all of which serve to reduce the collective impact on our planet.
Mike Watts, President, Pinnacle Environmental Services, Inc. http://www.pinnacleenv.com