We are all familiar with plastic bags, but not many people are aware of the cruel truth hiding behind the using of plastic bags. The level of plastic bag consumption is estimated at more than 500 billion plastic bags per year, almost 1 million per minute.
The main source of this problem is disposable bags made of polyethylene with a high level of density (HDPE). Having packed your goods in such a package, you leave it to rot in the earth for nearly 1,000 years.
Investigation of Australian Department of the Environment shows that Australians consume about 6.9 billion plastic bags per year, it is 326 per person.
According to statistics in Ireland in 20011.2 billion disposable plastic bags were used, each person uses 316 disposable plastic bags per year. However, the problem has been cardinally improved in 2002 due to the introduction of new packages PlasTax , thus, the consumption level of HDPE bags decreased by 90%.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. people use 100 billion plastic bags annually. The production of these bags requires 12 million barrels. Four out of five grocery bags in the U.S. are now made of plastic. Plastic bags cause over 100,000 deaths of sea turtles and other marine animals every year when animals mistake them for food.
According to information got from BBC, only one of two hundred the plastic packages are recycled in the UK. The average family consumes four plastic packages during one trip to the supermarket.
SOLVING THE PROBLEM
Of course, the easiest way to reduce the use of plastic bags is to stop using them at all.
Each bag made of environmentally friendly material, (whether it is a bag of cotton or of linen, as well as reusable bags made of nylon), is able to replace about 1,000 plastic bags per day. Thus, buying bags made of environmentally friendly material, you do not only decrease environmentally harmful production of plastic bags, you also stop being an advertising agent, showing the plastic bags with logo of a supermarket.
Besides, many countries take measures to fight with increasing amounts of plastic bags. For example, in Australia during the overall cleaning day people manage to gather 500000 plastic bags.
Another way out is to recycle plastic bags. The easiest way to get rid of plastic waste is just to burn it. However, many different toxic substances are released into the atmosphere while burning plastic bags. Thus, this process has a detrimental effect on the environment. So, now other methods of disposal are more widespread. One of these approaches is polyethylene recycling. However, before recycling plastic bags we need to collect them, which in most cases means simply to separate them from household waste. Further, according to the technological process, the feedstock requires pre-wash in a special washing machine, these washing machines are the part of recycling mechanism. After washing the plastic wastes are taken into a so-called mill where they are thoroughly reduced to small pieces. The next stage is to process the feedstock in a centrifuge, where the moisture and various random solids (glass, paper, etc.) are removed. Next, the final wash of secondary plastic raw materials is made. Waste water is removed and polyethylene goes to a special drying cabinet, where both mechanical drying and heat treatment are used. As a result of this process we get polyethylene secondary raw materials, which are suitable for reuse. For example, polyethylene tapes are made with the use of recycled polyethylene.
It is not a secret that plastic bags cause serious damage to our nature and our planet. This is why it is very important to become responsible for our future. Even such small thing as giving preference to bags made of environmentally friendly material can make all the difference in the world!
*About the author: This essay is written by Melisa Marzett, a wonderful writer whose articles are dedicated to problems of environment, animals and health care. You are welcome to contact with Melisa on Google+. Other articles written by this talented writer can be found at essay writing.