The Plastic Bag Problem

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					BYOB Campaign - 2009


 THE PLASTIC BAG PROBLEM
                An Overview
Plastic bags were first introduced in the 1970s as
a sanitary and environmentally friendly replacement
for the paper bag

They quickly became popular with consumers as they
were lightweight and strong

There are currently over 500 billion bags used
worldwide every year - almost all of them are sent
to our landfills or cast away as litter

This friendly replacement has become a huge problem




                          60,000 Bags -
                        the amount used
                       in the U.S.A. every
                            5 seconds




                                 [1]
September 2008


 THE PLASTIC BAG PROBLEM
          Crowded Landfills
The amount of time these bags are in use can be
counted in minutes but they take upwards of 100
years to break down

They’ll be taking up valuable space in our
landfills longer than the lifespan of their
original user

When left uncovered they are free to enter into the
surrounding environment - these AWOL bags can choke
out plant life, clog drains and cause flooding

They are a costly and visible component of the
litter stream - Australia spends $200 million a
year picking up 80 million bags




                        [2]
September 2008


 THE PLASTIC BAG PROBLEM
           Threat to the Sea
When these bags make their way to the sea they
contribute to the increasingly large amount of
plastic pollution already there

The bags are a common cause of entanglement -
restricting marine animal movement - leading to
starvation and drowning

The bags will break down with time
and work their way into the food
chain


In a 2001 Newfoundland study, 97% of gannet nests
contained plastic - small feet of the chicks can
become tangled causing serious harm


                            100,000
                      birds, whales and
                    sea turtles are killed
                    every year as a result
                           of plastic
                         consumption



                             [3]
September 2008


 THE PLASTIC BAG PROBLEM
The Problem Here in St. John’s

St. John’s has a metropolitan population of 180,000

This is a city very proud of its natural beauty and
is highly dependent on the tourism industry

Awareness of excessive plastic bag consumption in
the city is rising as plastic can be found on our
streets, in our forests and on our beaches




          The “plastic
        forest” outside
          of the Robin
           Hood Bay
             landfill




                          [4]
 September 2008


  THE PLASTIC BAG PROBLEM
The Problem Here in St. John’s
Estimating the size of the problem:
LOCATION      POPULATION    PLASTIC BAG USE   POPULATION OF ST.   ESTIMATED # OF
                            (BAGS PER YEAR)   JOHN’S (AS A %)     BAGS USED PER
                                                                  YEAR IN ST. JOHN’S

Ontario       12.6 million 2.5 billion        1.40%               36 million

Quebec        7.7 million   1.5 billion       2.40%               35 million

San           740000        200 million       24%                 49 million
Francisco

Australia     20 million    6.9 billion       0.90%               62 million

                                              AVERAGE             45.5 million

If we assume a 50% reduction (as some citizens have
switched to reusable bags) - current consumption is



      23 MILLION
     BAGS A YEAR
                                   [5]
September 2008


 THE PLASTIC BAG PROBLEM
How to Deal with the Problem
A number of different approaches can be made:

- Taxing bag usage (a $0.15 tax in Ireland cut bag
  use from 328 to 21 bags per person - $12 million
  in revenue went into an Environmental Fund)

- A complete ban (imposed in San Francisco - only
  recyclable and biodegradable bags allowed)



          What you can do to help
Switch to reusable bags and look
for recycled packaging when out
shopping

Reduce, reuse and recycle

Remember, it’s not a matter of
being Less Bad but being More Good!




                        [6]

				
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