What are the main problems associated with using plastic bags? Identify solutions reduce these problems
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Assignment Question: What are the main problems associated with using plastic bags? Identify solutions reduce these problems?
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Main problems associated with using plastic bags and solutions to reduce these problems
People make use of plastic bags in their daily lives for different functions. They are important components that help individuals inside the house and around the environment. Plastic bags are used in restaurants, clothing stores, grocery stores and bookstores to carry different purchased products. Many homes make use of the commodities to frame their screens, keep refrigerated foods and other crucial functions. The bags are made from petroleum and natural gas which are relic fuel sources. Unfortunately, their production and use have led to various problems in the environment, which need to be checked to ensure human safety. The chemicals from the bags usually find their way into the water system and since they are known to be non-biodegradable, they exist everywhere leading to pollution. Combating the menace of plastic bags is vital, and this can lead to an environment that is clean and healthy.
Plastic bags are used by the majority of people around the globe (Convery et al., 2007). It is estimated that every year over one trillion bags is used by individuals for various reasons. They are convenient because they are light, inexpensive and water resistant when they are compared to other bags that are on the market. Such products are unnecessary and can be avoided by the majority. Clerks often pack products into bags, even though they are meant to be used immediately. They are never necessary for an apple or soda bought for immediate consumption. They have led to environmental issues that have been in discussion for ages. It is vital to note that very few bags are often recycled at the end of every year. An overall reduction in the use of such products can solve the environmental problems that emerge from their use.
Problems associated with the use of paper bags
Recent research (O´Brine and Thompson, 2010) suggest that the numerous number of paper bags that are deposited in the environment often find their way into parks, rivers, oceans and landfills. The evidence of their existence can be seen on top of trees and also floating in the air where they are blown from one place to another. Their relatively longer periods of decomposition make them available for centuries, and when they start breaking up, they end up in oceans, lakes and rivers. This makes them dangerous while in the environment hence the need to reduce their use.
Further research (Groot et al., 2007) has found out that plastic bags are dangerous to animals as they are consumed by them leading to different health problems. Animals mistake the bags for food, and this happens when they have food residues or are colored brightly. When animals consume such bags they can choke and die while experiencing pain and agony. They can also be consumed whole, and this poses a greater risk to animals as they end up having problems in their digestion thereby dying slowly as a result of infection of starvation.
Floating plastic materials in the ocean are increasing by the day. This leads to the Pacific Trash Vortex, which is the debris found in the North Pacific Ocean. It has a large number of materials that are floating in the water, and they may include containers, bottles, plastic bags and other garbage that are trapped. The total area covered by such debris is currently estimated to be more than the size of Texas. The region has a negative impact on marine life because of the toxic nature of the garbage.
Most governments spend lots of money collecting litter, when such amounts can be used to increase their level of development. The increased use of plastic bags needs to be reduced to ensure minimal wastage of funds. Plastic bags are never used for longer periods and this increases their presence in the environment. They also take many years to break down and those that are recycled are few.
There are nations that have started using plastic bags that are environmentally friendly. The bags are known to break down in less than three years, and as such they become virtually nothing after this period. However, the whole process of breaking down the bags, which are known to originate from petrol and natural gas, changes carbon to methane. Plastic bags can also be manufactured from corn, which is a product that breaks down quickly with minimal methane. Unfortunately, they are expensive to produce and very few individuals make use of them.
Solutions to the problems of paper bag use
Chan-Halbrendt (2009) confirms that there is currently no clear alternative that has been found to replace the use of paper bags. However, meanwhile, users need to limit their use to ensure a healthy environment now and in the future. The banning of paper bags by the government will reduce their use and minimize their adverse effects on the environment. Italy was the first nation to ban the use of plastic bags that are non-biodegradable. Other nations that have banned the use of thin paper bags include South Africa and China. Such policies will lead to the use of other alternatives, which are environmental friendly.
Introducing tax laws on the use of paper bags can see their reduction in the long run. Nations like the Republic of Ireland have 22 euro cents charged per bag for all shoppers. This led to a massive use of long life bags, and a decreased number of paper bags on the market. Such a restriction will lead to minimal environmental problems because long life bags are used more than once. Money collected from such endeavors can also be put in an environmental fund, and be used to reduce waste or research on alternatives to the paper bag menace.
Plastic bag users can take their used bags to recycling centers instead of throwing them. These centers are important as they assist in recycling the used paper bags hence reducing the pollution level of the environment. When throwing the bags, users must also ensure that they are deposited in garbage cans that are non-biodegradable, this is the right place where they can be deposited.
There are many alternatives that can be used instead of plastic bags. They are the best option because of their qualities, but they are currently taking a toll on the ecosystem and the environment at large. Cutting down of trees for producing paper bags combined with the needed energy for the process will have an adverse effect on the environment in the future. This makes it probable for environmentalists to find alternative ways to curb the possible problems associated with paper bag use. A better solution to the issues can be the introduction of reusable plastic bags, which can be used more than once and also known to be strong. Environmental enthusiasts are fascinated with the idea, but they also have their own share of problems to the environment and users as a whole.
Chan-Halbrendt, C., Fang, D. & Yang, F., 2009. Trade-offs between shopping bags made of non-degradable plastics and other materials, using latent class analysis: The case of Tianjin, China. International Food and Agribusiness Management Review, 12(4), p.179-198.
Convery, F., McDonnell, S. & Ferreira, S., 2007. The most popular tax in Europe? Lessons from the Irish plastic bags levy. Environmental and Resource Economics, 38(1), p.1-11.
Groot, J.I.M. de, Abrahamse, W. & Jones, K., 2013. Persuasive normative messages: The influence of injunctive and personal norms on using free plastic bags. Sustainability (Switzerland), 5(5), p.1829-1844.
O´Brine, T. & Thompson, R., 2010, Degradation of plastic carrier bags in the marine environment. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 60, p.2279-2283.