Facts About Single-Use Plastic and Paper Bags

Posted by — November 19, 2009 10:54 pm

In case you need a reminder about why using reusable bags is so important, here are some startling facts about single-use plastic and paper bags.  These facts were updated on 5-2-2011 because one of our sources, the US EPA had removed various facts from their website.   Here is a link to one of the pages removed from the EPA site. 

  • Introduced in the 1970’s as an alternative to paper bags, plastic bags now account for 80 percent of grocery bags given out, according to the American Plastics Council.3
  • According to the United States International Trade Commission, in 2008, U.S. consumption of imported and domestically produced Polyethylene Retail Carrier Bags was reported to be 102,105,637,000. 10
  • A study conducted by Boustead Associates (2007) states that, “EPA data from 2005 show that 21% of the kraft paper grocery bags are recycled and 5.2% of the plastic grocery bags are recycled.”8
  • “Solid materials, typically waste, that has found its way to the marine environment is called marine debris. It is known to be the cause of injuries and deaths of numerous marine animals and birds, either because they become entangled in it or they mistake it for prey and eat it.”2Read More
  • “At least 267 different species are known to have suffered from entanglement or ingestion of marine debris including seabirds, turtles, seals, sea lions, whales and fish. The scale of contamination of the marine environment by plastic debris is vast. It is found floating in all the world’s oceans, everywhere from polar region to the equator.”2 Read More
  • The Great Pacific Garbage Patch has mistakenly been referred to as the largest landfill in the world, a floating island, and a trash vortex. According to the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is most accurately represented as a “plastic soup” where the plastic is distributed throughout the water column.9 Read More

View all facts and sources

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