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The War on Plastic Bags

September 22, 2011

Rolling Stone points out that it began in Asia and only recently got picked up in the U.S.:

The first nationwide ban was enacted a decade ago in Bangladesh, after plastic bags clogged storm drains and caused massive floods. China issued a top-down order banning plastic bags in June 2008 — just two months before it hosted the Olympics — in an effort to reduce the amount of “white pollution.” Even though the ban is openly flouted by street vendors, it has still made a tremendous impact: In the first year alone, China decreased its use of plastic bags by two-thirds, eliminating some 40 billion bags — a move that saved the energy equivalent of 11.7 million barrels of oil.

The Indian city of Delhi boasts some of the world’s most aggressive legislation on plastic bags, not only fining individual users and businesses that hand out the bags but also threatening jail time for offenders and plastic-bag manufacturers. This year, Italy became the first European country to issue a nationwide ban on plastic bags, while Ireland places a 15-cent fee on every bag — a move that reduced usage by 90 percent in the first three months. All told, 25 percent of the world’s population now lives in areas with bans or fees on plastic bags.

While other nations have effectively cracked down on plastic bags, the U.S. government has left local communities to fend for themselves. In 2007, San Francisco became the first American city to ban plastic bags, and Washington, D.C., has imposed a five-cent fee per bag, cutting monthly use from 22.5 million bags to barely 3 million…In recent years, a growing number of U.S. communities — from 30 townships in Alaska to the Outer Banks of North Carolina — have introduced some 200 anti-bag measures.

More here.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 22, 2011 7:16 pm

    Captain Charles Moore is quoted in a number of sources as saying, ““Humanity’s plastic footprint is just as bad if not worse than its carbon footprint. Plastic pollution is as serious or more serious than global warming.”
    Not for profit organizations have bought the problem to our attention, now it is up to business and governments to affect change.

    • September 23, 2011 12:59 pm

      Without a doubt. In case you’re interested, there is an innovative project underway to work with businesses to manage their plastic footprints. Thanks for the comment.

  2. September 23, 2011 6:37 pm

    the state of Hawaii has attempted several times to implement a ban or fee. They current have moved the issue to be determined by each county separately. Since each island is a separate county we may yet see some action. Keep up encouraging change. Aloha, Dohn

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