Look around, we are surrounded by plastic. I don't mean plastic credit cards, plastic faces, breasts, backsides and plastic personalities, I mean something even worse - plastic bags and plastic bottles. In Australia the problem of plastic bags and plastic bottles is spiralling out of control, in fact right across the entire planet plastic is leaving a path of destruction.
Australians use more than 4 billion plastic grocery-style bags each year and an estimated 50 million of these bags enter the environment ending up in waterways and the ocean. Plastic now outnumbers sea life 6 to 1 with 119,000 pieces of plastic for each sq km of ocean. We dump 7,150 recyclable plastic bags into landfill every minute; that’s a staggering 3.93 billion bags per annum. Spiralling out of control - more like spiralled out of control.
A single plastic bag can take up to 1,000 years to break down, 1,000 years for a bag that is used on average just 12 short minutes. Along the way plastic kills 1 million sea birds, 100,000 sea mammals and countless fish each year. Birds, whales, dolphins, seals and turtles murdered by Australia's biggest serial killer every single year. When these animals decay, plastic is simply released again to continue its killing spree, over and over again.
It is not just animals that are on the receiving end, the environment and all of the human race, you, me and all of our loved ones, are adversely impacted by the dangers of plastic. Plastic bags are made from fossil fuels, a non-renewable resource that requires environmentally damaging mining and it is said that 17 million tonnes of oil is required to produce just one year's worth of plastic bottles. Plastic produces greenhouse gases, both in its production and as it breaks down, further destroying the world's ecosystems. Plastic is photodegrable, meaning it breaks into increasingly smaller pieces and entersthe food chain, it also releases a chemical called BPA, which is found in 93% of Americans bodies and is linked to prostate and breast cancers, obesity, cardiovascular diseases and learning and memory disorders amongst a host of other things.
Have you not read enough? Do you think it is long over-due we put a blanket ban on plastic in Australia? South Australia, the Northern Territory, the ACT and Tasmania have all banned single use singlet style plastic bags - surely the statistics show that a uniform ban Australia-wide is absolutely necessary.
Just look how slow Australia, NSW in particular, has been to move on the whole plastic issue - we have been surpassed and beaten to the punch by countries like Bangladesh, Rwanda and even Mauritania. We are a country pushing innovation, celebrating first-world freedom, but we are slow to act on real issues that are causing real problems, real problems on all levels.
The Bangladesh government imposed a total ban on the plastic bag in 2002, with similar bans undertaken in Rwanda, China, Taiwan and Macedonia. Rwanda completely banned plastic bags in 2008 as part of its Vision 2020 plan for sustainability, Mauritania banned the use, manufacture and import of plastic bags from January 2013 as a way to protect the environment, livestock, and marine species. In 2003 Denmark introduced a tax to retailers for giving out plastic bags, stores charged for plastic bags and pushed the use of reusable bags which resulted in a saving of about 66% of plastic and paper bags. By 2014 Denmark had the lowest plastic bag use in all of Europe, with 4 bags per person per year, compared to 466 in Portugal, Poland and Slovakia. Germany imposes a fee on excess packaging through its Green Dot program, which includes plastic bags, and all stores that provide plastic bags must pay a recycling tax. Closer to home the introduction of the Zero Waste program in South Australia led to its lightweight bag ban in October 2008, which led to an estimated 400 million bags saved each and every year.
Australians use more than 10 million new plastic shopping bags every day - if we don't do anything about this problem right now then we will see wide-spread, catastrophic and irreversible destruction to every single element of society.
Do you want to inadvertently eat plastic for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Do you want your child to have a learning disorder? Do you want to go swimming with the Dolphins, and the plastic? These are just a few of the things that plastic is doing more to all of us and the world around us every single day. The answer to all of these questions is simple - so what can we do about it? Say no to single use plastic, choose re-useable shopping bags, refuse plastic when asked, choose non-plastic packaging, carry your own water bottle and fill it up, and petition the NSW government to ban single use singlet-style plastic bags right now and forever. Lets demand Premier Mike Baird and Environment Minister Mark Speakman are held accountable and do something about this serial killer that is walking amongst us. Oil based plastics are destroying the environment and everything in it and around it, including all humans. There are better ways like hemp plastic, but for now let's just focus on stopping the bags!
Join the petition to ban single use plastic bags in NSW.
By Evan Sutter