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What’s Wrong with Plastic Grocery Bags?

The Fort Collins City Council is considering instituting a policy that levies a charge on plastic grocery bags.

Nothing is for certain, but the fee could be $.10 per bag. Boulder has already put similar policies in place.

So, what’s the big deal? The main issue seems to be with the fact that these bags can take up to 1,000 years to degrade, and when they do, because of what they are made from, they release toxicity into our land, water and air.

The website reuseit.com cites these points about plastic bags.

• A single plastic bag can take up to 1,000 years to degrade.
• More than 3.5 million tons of plastic bags, sacks and wraps were discarded in 2008.
• Only 1 in 200 plastic bags in the UK are recycled (BBC).
• The U.S. goes through 100 billion single-use plastic bags. This costs retailers about $4 billion a year.
• Plastic bags are the second-most common type of ocean refuse, after cigarette butts (2008)
• Plastic bags remain toxic even after they break down.
• Every square mile of ocean has about 46,000 pieces of plastic floating in it.

Further information comes from cleanair.org, with their source cited at the bottom.

Every year, Americans use approximately 102.1 billion plastic bags, creating tons of landfill waste.
Plastic bags do not biodegrade. Light breaks them down into smaller and smaller particles that contaminate the soil and water and are expensive and difficult to remove.6

[6] Clean Air Council. (2009, May). Why Plastic Bag Fees Workcleanair.org

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