Each year, an estimated 500 billion* to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide that ultimately end up as waste in landfills (over one million per minute). Plastic bags can take between 15 to 1000 years to break down in the environment.

Each year in the US, about 100 billion plastic bags are distributed by retail checkout counters. They aren’t free.  They cost retailers over 4 billion dollars, who pass the cost onto us.

It takes 35 million barrels of oil to produce them.  We spend 8 million dollars sweeping the bags from our streets, scooping them out of storm drains, and dumping them into a landfill. 

They contaminate landfills because they never break down.

Our Oceans and Animals 

"Plastic debris is the most common surface feature of the world's oceans.”
- Charles Moore

Historically, humans have always tossed waste into the ocean but marine organisms broke it down in a relatively short time. Unfortunately, our quest for convenient packaging over the past 50 years or so, created a class of plastic products that are immune to even the most rapacious bacteria.

Up to 1 million sea birds, 100,000 sea mammals and countless fish and other wildlife each year die globally from entanglement in, or ingestion of, plastics.

VULNERABLE SPECIES: Leatherback Turtle, Hawksbill Turtle, Flatback Turtle, Green Turtle, Wandering Albatross, Humpback Whale, Antipodean Albatross, and Gibson's Albatross, Southern Royal Albatross, Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross, Grey Nurse Shark, Grey-headed Albatross, Blue Petrel, Northern Giant Petrel.

BIRDS: A study of albatross chicks on Midway Island in the Pacific Ocean found 90% had plastic in their throats. When the animal dies and decays the plastic is then free to be re-digested by other wildlife – and so the cycle begins.

It is estimated that there are 46,000 pieces of plastic floating in each square mile of our oceans.

TURTLES: frequently eat plastic bags, confusing them with jellyfish, their common prey. Sea birds eat polystyrene balls and plastic buoys, confusing them with fish eggs and crustaceans, and the Humpback, Southern Right and Blue Whales eat a range of plastic debris.

Of all the marine debris washed, dumped or blown into the ocean, more than 70 per cent is plastic. In August 2000, a whale was stranded in north Queensland. It died soon after. An autopsy found that the whale’s stomach was tightly packed with plastic – almost 6 square meters of it! The whale had swallowed supermarket bags, food packaging and other large plastic objects.

Plastic Bag 411: All information gathered from these informative sites!




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