A plastic bag,poly bag, or pouch is a type of container made of thin , flexible, plastic film, Nonwoven fabric, or plastic textile. Plastic bags are used for containing and transporting goods such as foods, produce, powders, ice, magazines, chemicals, and waste. It is a common form of packaging.
Most plastic bags are heat sealed at the seams, while some are bonded with adhesives or are stitched.
Many countries are introducing legislation to phase-out lightweight plastic bags, because plastic never fully breaks down, causing everlasting pollution of plastics and environmental impacts. Every year, about 1 to 5 trillion plastic bags are used and discarded around the world. From point of sale to destination, plastic bags have a lifetime of 12 minutes. Approximately 320 bags per capita were used in 2014.
Plastic bags start out as fossil fuels and end up as deadly waste in landfills and the ocean. Birds often mistake shredded plastic bags for food, filling their stomachs with toxic debris. For hungry sea turtles, it’s nearly impossible to distinguish between jellyfish and floating plastic shopping bags. Fish eat thousands of tons of plastic a year, transferring it up the food chain to bigger fish and marine mammals.
Despite all of this, plastic bags are in almost every American home because retail giants continue to use them for nearly every purchase made in their stores.
10 Facts About Single-use Plastic Bags
- Americans use 100 billion plastic bags a year, which require 12 million barrels of oil to manufacture.
- It only takes about 14 plastic bags for the equivalent of the gas required to drive one mile.
- The average American family takes home almost 1,500 plastic shopping bags a year.
- According to Waste Management, only 1 percent of plastic bags are returned for recycling. That means that the average family only recycles 15 bags a year; the rest end up in landfills or as litter.
- Up to 80 percent of ocean plastic pollution enters the ocean from land.
- At least 267 different species have been affected by plastic pollution in the ocean.
- 100,000 marine animals are killed by plastic bags annually.
- One in three leatherback sea turtles have been found with plastic in their stomachs.
- Plastic bags are used for an average of 12 minutes.
- It takes 500 (or more) years for a plastic bag to degrade in a landfill. Unfortunately the bags don’t break down completely but instead photo-degrade, becoming microplastics that absorb toxins and continue to pollute the environment.