Many supermarkets have stopped giving out free plastic bags or give you a recycled one at charge. Some countries have enforced levies on the use of them. Most of us use them again at least once at home. The reality is that this is only the tip of the iceberg. There is much more to be done. Spend one day and look around how many plastic promotional bags or other shopping bags you can see in one trip to the shopping mall and you really come to understand the nature of this huge problem. Here are only some of the ongoing issues related now and in the future to get you concerned.
Plastic Africa. Many countries like nearly all in West Africa don’t even have disposal systems in place let alone any recycling and green bags – the use of plastic bags is wide spread. Africa holds a great number of the world’s population and if you have ever been to countries like Nigeria where seas upon seas of plastic bags as far as the eye can see, and plastic bag mountains are common place, you know that all of the efforts in the world are only a scratch on the surface in terms of what else has to be done to stop, clean up, and repair the damage caused by plastic bags.
Recycling issues at home. Even most Australian’s don’t realise that plastic bags are the largest contaminants of local council and roadside recycling programs. Recycling plastic bags defeats the purpose. They can simply be used again. Plastic bags make up more than 50% of the contaminants of urban home based recycling programs in Australia.
Education. It is not surprising that a great amount of education is still necessary around the world. In the progressive society of Australia it is still estimated that 50% of people don’t really understand about recycling. Use that as a gauge of the rest of the world and the millions of people who even have limited education and you can see the information dissemination and education that is required.
Many industry groups around the world are secretly fighting against plastic bag taxes under-mining many of the efforts of education and recycling that we have already mentioned. There is no clear body in the world that clearly represents or highlights the damage of plastic bags that has any real legal power.
Many unscrupulous companies and individuals are selling plastic bags as environmentally friendly and bio-degrade-able ‘green bags’ when they are not, for profit. Green bags by definition cannot be plastic. In recent news reports a case was discovered in China that a major supplier to a major supermarket chain had been doing this for years. Difficulties in actually telling and actual monitoring in many countries makes manufacturing imitation items relatively easy.
We will be lucky to ever see the stop of the production and the radical distribution and even more disposal of plastic bags until every individual makes the decision themselves to stop using and refusing to accept them.