Activism

Published on February 16th, 2008 | by Janel Sterbentz

17

More Cities and Stores Banning Plastic Bags

February 16th, 2008 by

bagbird.jpgOn March 27th 2007, San Francisco became the first city in the US to ban plastic bags in major supermarkets and pharmacies. Only biodegradable plastic and recyclable paper are allowed. Whole Foods recently announced that by April of this year it would end the use of plastic bags in all of its 270 stores in the US, Canada and the UK.

New York and New Jersey require retailers that use plastic bags to offer a recycling program, the city of Oakland, California, is considering a ban, and China announced a countrywide free plastic bag prohibition in January. Ireland took the lead in Europe, taxing plastic bags in 2002. Customers who want them must now pay 33 cents per bag at the register. The Irish government says the tax has reduced the use of disposable bags by 90 percent! The tax also raised millions of dollars in revenue.

The city of Paris decided to ban non-biodegradable plastic bags in large stores in 2007, in an effort to reduce pollution. Israel, Canada, western India, Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Taiwan, Singapore and Bangladesh have also banned or are moving toward banning the plastic bag.

Robert Bateman, president of Roplast Industries , a manufacturer of plastic bags, says it costs one cent for a plastic grocery bag, whereas a paper bag costs four cents. As a result, plastic bags account for four out of every five bags handed out at the grocery store.

In January, about 42 billion plastic bags were used worldwide, according to reusablebags.com . The majority are
not recycled or reused , ending up in landfills or as litter. Plastic bags don’t biodegrade, they photodegrade, breaking down into smaller and smaller pieces which contaminate the soil and waterways, killing animals that accidentally ingest them. Plastic bags are made from petroleum, a non-renewable natural resource, contributing to the diminishing availability of oil and damage to the environment from the extraction of petroleum.

While paper bags are in some ways better for the environment, studies suggest that more greenhouse gases are released in their manufacture and transportation than in the production of plastic bags.

The Film and Bag Federation , says that compared to paper grocery bags, plastic grocery bags consume 40 percent less energy, generate 80 percent less solid waste, produce 70 percent fewer atmospheric emissions, and release up to 94 percent fewer waterborne wastes.

So if we make the effort to ban plastic, why not ban paper as well? Or at least make customers pay for them. In the meantime, canvass bags cost as little as $3 and take a moment to remember before leaving the house. You can also take along some reused plastic bags for vegetables, and other containers to fill up on oil or shampoo in the bulk section. Also, if your city or grocery store doesn’t have plastic bag recycling, ask them to offer it.

Keep up to date with all the most interesting green news on the planet by subscribing to our (free) Planetsave newsletter.


Tags: ,


About the Author

I am but one of many tree-hugging vegetarian bicyclists living in progressively green Portland, Oregon. I have a Master's of Urban Studies and Planning from Portland State University, and I worked for a bit at the Portland Office of Transportation. I have lived, traveled and studied in many European cities and towns to learn about their compact, pedestrian-scaled and bicyclist friendly infrastructure. My goal is to create communities that are socially cohesive, beautiful, and easy to travel by bike and foot; thereby reducing pollution, improving physical health and building community.



  • There is rotting vegetation and volcanoes that give out chemicals that MIGHT start a
    acid rainfall, but most of the acid rains we see nowadays is because of us humans. All of this
    fossil fuel, coal plants, factories, and much more play a large role in acid rain. When we start
    burning fossil fuels the fossil fuels release sulfur and nitrogen which go into the great blue
    sky. The sulfur and nitrogen reacts with water in the atmosphere to make a acid in the
    great white clouds and those clouds might fly all around the world to let the acid rain down on
    other countries. Acid rain damages the wilderness, but it damages water sources or areas
    with water the most because the acid mixes into the water and increases the Ph and makes
    the water inhabitable for most creatures therefore, killing it. with the death of that creature,
    ecology of that environment immediately starts breaking down even if there are some animals
    that tolerate acid better than the poor fish that succumbed to acids because, that fish might be
    the prey of a snapping turtle, so no food for it, the snapping turtles die out. When one
    important animal near the bottom of the food chain dies, everything up top starts to starve
    and there goes one great environment. Acid rains also damages tree because the rain MIGHT
    contain traces of aluminum which makes it harder for trees to absorb water and nutrients, plus
    the acid rain damages leaves and pine needles. The only way to STOP acid rain is to start cutting
    out usage of fossil fuels and other things, it’s simply amazing that we’re the slowest country to
    understand that the world is starting to fall apart because of us. Europe has already banned
    plastic bag usage which release pollutants, why can’t we follow in their footsteps.

  • nice.Thank you for the article.

  • ayushi

    good work

  • john-san francisco , sfc ca

    cool post made me think:)

  • Juan Beristain

    me gustaria saber si alguien me puede ayudar a localizar el texto de estas leyes que prohiben las bolasas de plástico.

    Segun entiendo, por que no se hablar y escribir ingles, existen varios paises que ya cuentan con la prohibicion de bolsas y saber si existe alguna iniciativa que prohiba los desechables no biodegradables.

  • Meredith

    I live in Indianapolis and I work with a group of people that are trying to push forth the green movement. Can anyone give me advice as to how to initiate the banning of plastic bags process? Our organization is passionate about getting this action implemented in our city. Thank you.

  • Pingback: Seattle Bag Ban Will Go To Ballot : EcoLocalizer()

  • Pingback: OT A heads up - SheKnows Message Boards()

  • Jean

    Ban both paper and plastic. Give each household one canvas bag free, just like each one gets one recycle bin free, and charge 50 cents a bag for any reusable ones needed in the stores. People would remember to bring bags with them very rapidly.

  • Fran Fick

    This is probably a dumb thought..but why can’t we just burn the bags..i know it wouldn’t be good for our air but wouldn’t that at least be an improvement over what we are doing with the plastic bags now?
    Also..what are the hazards of using paper bags?
    Thank you ..Fran Fick

  • Pingback: Let’s Chow! » Blog Archive » Five Simple Ways to Green the “Pre-Chowing” Process()

  • Pingback: Carry Your Stuff, Not Guilt with New Tote Bags from Tokyo Bay Inc. : Feelgood Style()

  • Jim

    In the US I’ve seen people avoid paper and plastic altogether by using autocarts. For small purchases I’d carry a canvas bag but for larger purchases I didn’t have an alternative. Banning plastic isn’t the solution because paper will take up the slack and deplete our forests. The real solution is banning paper and plastic. Allow only completely reusable containers.

    • Judy

      What are autocarts?

  • Greg

    WOW! I just ran across this site, check http://www.autocarts.net for a device that gets rid of the need for plastic or paper bags while shopping.
    This will definitely help solve many environmental issues.

  • Kim

    You mention that Ireland is leading the way in Europe with charging customers for plastic bags. Actually, this is common practice in Denmark, where I lived from 2000-2007. People often re-used plastic bags which they brought with them (their bags are much thicker, and therefore better able to withstand being used multiple times), or they brought canvas bags with them. It was also common to see shoppers packing their wares into their backbacks so they could carry then home on their bikes. While we don’t have any bans on plastic bags here in Wisconsin, several of our local grocery stores offer a small financial incentive (about 5 cents per bag) for bringing your own.

  • chris

    Being in Thailand at the molment I can tell you they love their plastic bags. But there is a push in some places to get rid of them and use reusable cloth bags. And on their earth day clean up I was very impressed with how many Thai people were involved in cleaning up and recycling.

Back to Top ↑
  • Connect!

  • 5 Ingredients For A Green Life

    Green Living Info
  • Advertisement

  • 7 Ways to Go Solar

    Solar Power Growth
  • 8 Electric Car Benefits

    electric car benefits
  • Advertisement

  • 10 Bicycling Benefits

    Dutch Bicyclist
  • Save $10,000/Year Riding Transit

    transit savings
  • Advertisement

  • Electric Cars List (US & Europe)

    Solar Power Growth
  • Top Posts On Planetsave

  • Free News from Planetsave!



  • Tell us Your Sustainability Story!

  • Go Solar

    Want to save the planet? Want to live green? Want to save some serious cash money? Go solar! The cost of solar panels today is at a serious low. Go and get a solar quote and home solar report for your home... and then help save the planet!
  • Search the IM Network