Plastic Pollution, Bag Bans
September 17 2012

International Plastic Bag Reductions

by Bill Hickman

Plastic bag restrictions have been enacted in many cities and towns on the West Coast of the U.S. while international plastic bag reductions are picking up speed.  There is no solid data on the number of plastic checkout bags used every year but estimates range between 500 billion and 1 trillion worldwide.  While plastic bags are a big convenience to some, there is negligible value in them so many bags get littered or thrown away without much thought.

India has been trying to tackle plastic bag pollution for years with mixed results.  Back in 2009 Delhi enacted a plastic checkout bag ban but it has been largely ignored.  Now, city leaders enacted a new ordinance that prohibits the manufacture or sale of all plastic sheets or bags within the city limits – including shopping bags, garbage bags, magazine and greeting card coverings, and plastic film.  In addition to being an eyesore, plastic film litter has impacted sacred cows and clogged drains.

Argentina is taking a novel approach to tackling plastic bag litter with the federal government’s ‘Plan for Plastic Bag Reduction’.  Instead of giving away free plastic checkout bags, customers that don’t bring a reusable bag can buy green or black bags that later are used for trash or recyclables.  It sounds like a good incentive for people to remember their reusable bags while still giving people the option to buy a bag that is unlikely to be littered.

Keep up the good work our international friends!