Prior to the introduction of a plastic bag charge in the UK on October 5th 2015, Britons took home over 8.5 million single-use plastic carrier bags from supermarkets alone.
Not only do these plastic bags cause unsightly scenes across our streets and countryside when they are littered, but they also exhibit the same problems as all other plastics – they’re incredibly difficult to break-down once they’re produced and can take thousands of years to degrade.
The next reason why plastic bags are so bad is the effect that they can have on wildlife and marine life; both of which are highly likely to mistake plastic bags for food and end up suffocating. If these animals are lucky enough to avoid choking, they’ll likely digest these plastic bags which can in turn poison them. Plastic also ends up entering our own food chain this way.
Plastic bags are also ridiculously expensive to clear up from our countryside’s and streets, costing taxpayers roughly £10 million per year according to a report by Defra. It’s also estimated that around 100 million barrels of oil were needed to produce a year’s supply of plastic bags for the world before the plastic bag charge was implemented.
Where’s the irony in all of this?
In an interview this week, the son of the man who invented plastic bags suggests that plastic they were actually made to save the planet, not to threaten it’s existence. When plastic bags were first created in 1959, they were developed as an alternative to paper bags which were considered terrible for the environment at the time as their production required trees to be chopped down. Plastic bags were also much stronger than paper bags that were being used and it was therefore believed that they could be used over and over again.
The inventors’ son explained that his dad would have found it “completely bizarre” that people would even consider throwing away their plastic bags as that wasn’t their intended purpose.
The tables have now turned and plastic bags are now even being banned in many countries, while their use is being limited or discouraged in other countries by introducing a plastic bag charge.
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