It might be yet too soon to assess any positive environmental impact, but will the recent proposed European Union plastic bag usage reduction represent a “victory” for out environment?
By: Ringo Bones
On a global basis, crude oil based plastic bags had grown in usage from almost zero after World War II to almost 500-billion individual plastic bags a year as of recent count, that’s almost 1-million individual plastic bags per minute. Single-use crude oil manufactured plastic bags used to carry our groceries had been a bone of contention for environmental activists and tenured environmental scientists / ecologist alike for more than 50 years because their non-biodegradable nature causes them to clog our municipal drainage systems, chokes up our landfills and they have deleterious effects on the gastrointestinal tract of marine organisms both big and small, not to mention the recently uncovered deleterious effects of crude oil derived plastic bags of producing hormone mimics during their ultraviolet light exposure during daylight hours in the open that disrupt the reproductive cycle of ecologically vital marine and littoral organisms. But will a recent proposed European Union measure to drastically reduce our dependence and usage of crude oil derived plastic bags lessen everyone’s negative impact on our environment?
A recent survey in the European Union has shown that on average a typical E.U. citizen on average use about 466 individual pieces of plastic bags a year during their visits to the local grocery. Portuguese shoppers are the heaviest plastic bag users in the E.U. using 666 individual pieces of plastic bags a year, while Danes use the least using on average 4 individual pieces of plastic bags a year. Even though the E.U. proposal sets to reduce plastic bag usage by half, most E.U. based environmental groups say they should emulate Danish shoppers of using only 4 individual pieces of plastic bags a year when doing their groceries. Charging or taxing plastic bag usage in some E.U. countries during the past few years had been somewhat successful in the reduction of single-use crude oil sourced non-biodegradable plastic bags winding up in landfills and clogging municipal drains, but only by a few percentage points on a statistical basis. Will awareness and stronger legislation be a better solution?