Plastic Free Bag Day

Plastic Bag Free Day is a global initiative that aims to eliminate the use of single-use plastic bags in the world.

 

This work centred around Plastic Bag Free Day, on the 3rd of July each year. Now, the campaign is part of the broader Break Free From Plastic movement, which brings together an international movement of plastic pollution fighters to build a future free from plastic waste.

Measures to phase out single-use plastic bags:

 

In order to limit the amount of single use plastic bags some countries are opting for bans, taxation or different forms of voluntary agreements. Banning plastic bags is most effective in cases when they pose an imminent and clear threat, however, bans depend on strong law enforcement capacity. Examples of countries that have banned are Italy, Rwanda or Bangladesh. To learn more about the political and legal situation in the EU, discover the Ban the Bag initiative by Surfrider Foundation!

 

25

On average, plastic bags are used for 25 minutes.

500
Yet, it takes between 100 to 500 years for a plastic bag to disintegrate (depending on the type of plastic).
1m
1 million plastic bags are in used around the world every minute
 500b
The average European uses about 500 plastic bags per year. Yet Europeans overwhelmingly support a ban on single-use plastic bags.
80
80% of marine litter is plastic
3m
3.4 million tonnes of plastic carrier bags are produced in the EU every year. This corresponds to the weight of more than two million cars!

 

 

Single-use plastic bags are:

 

  • BAD FOR THE PLANET: They take 100s of years to degrade and they not only pollute the environment but actually directly harm many living organisms
  • BADLY DESIGNED: It doesn’t make sense to produce something that lasts 100s of years when it is going to be used for a few minutes.  It is a contradiction that in a throw-away society nothing good lasts whilst bad products are forever.
  • UGLY: Reusable bags are a lot cooler !
  • EXPENSIVE: Producers don’t take responsibility for the impact of their product. Plastic bags are cheap to produce but very expensive to clean from the environment.
  • BAD FOR YOUR MIND: They embody the message of the throw-away society that is trashing the planet.
  • UNFAIR: Future generations will suffer from the pollution caused by plastic bags, without getting any of the benefit. Future generations don’t vote, but they count.
  • 92% OF THE 95,5 BILLION carrier bags in the EU in 2010 were single-use
  • MADE OF CRUDE OIL e.g. finite resource
  • GET INTO THE FOOD CHAIN: in the form of pulverised plastic waste in the sea gets into the food chain

 

 

 

Types of Plastic Bags

 

  • High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) Bags – This type of plastic is used to make unbranded ‘singlet’ bags that are commonly used in supermarkets, service stations and food outlets. HDPE is manufactured from ethylene and is a by-product of gas or oil refining. These types of bags are fully recyclable but do not biodegrade.
  • Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE) – These are generally branded and used as ‘boutique’ bags at stores selling higher value goods at department stores. LDPE is also manufactured from ethylene and is a by-product of gas or oil refining. Like HDPE, LDPE does not biodegrade. There are no recycling programs in King County for LDPE bags.
  • Non-woven Polypropylene – This type of plastic is used to make ‘reusable’ bags. There is currently no recycling market for polypropylene bags at end-of-life due to their relatively low volume in King County. Non-woven polypropylene is also non-biodegradable.
  • Degradable Plastic Bags – Degradable plastic is designed to undergo changes in its chemical structure under specific environmental conditions. It can be broken down by chemical or biological processes. There are 5 different types of degradable polymers:

Biodegradable polymers – A degradable plastic where degradation results from naturally occurring microorganisms, such as bacteria,fungi and algae.

Compostable polymers – A plastic that undergoes degradation by biological processes during composting. In the proper environment, compostable plastic is completely biodegradable and can be completely consumed in 180 days or less . These bags would work well for simple uses, such as food service, lawn, grocery, department store and pet bag products.

Oxi-biodegradable polymers – This type of plastic undergoes controlled degradation through additives that can trigger and accelerate the degradation process.

Photodegradable polymers – These bags break down when exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light or UV-sensitive additives.

Water-soluble polymers – Water soluble polymers dissolve in water within a specific temperature range.