The Downfall of the Plastic Bag: A Global Picture

The Downfall of the Plastic Bag: A Global Picture is a thorough and detailed global review of plastic bag usage and controls produced by the Earth Policy Institute.

The side bar of the web page containing this article also includes a table of worldwide plastic bag regulations, as well as a number of papers and studies focussing upon plastic bag usage and control throughout the world. South Africa features prominently in the references and controls, as well as in the research conducted.

The article contains interesting facts from throughout the world. A trillion single use plastic bags are used each year, almost 2 million a minute. A European Commission memo noted, “….in the North Sea, the stomachs of 94% of all birds contain plastic…” In the capital of Mauritania, an estimated 70% of cattle and sheep deaths are from plastic bag ingestion. In the United States, 133 city – or county-wide anti-plastic bag regulations have been passed.

Authors Janet Larsen and Savina Venkova make a telling comment, “…Plastic bags clearly have a cost to society, one that is not yet fully paid. Reducing disposable bag use is one small part of the move from a throwaway economy to one based on the prudent use of resources, where materials are reused rather than designed for rapid obsolescence…”

The Earth Policy Institute (EPI) was founded in 2001 by Lester Brown, the founder and former president of the Worldwatch Institute, to provide a plan of a sustainable future along with a roadmap of how to get from here to there. EPI works at the global level simply because no country can fully implement a Plan B economy in isolation.

EPI’s goals are (1) to provide a global plan (Plan B) for moving the world onto an environmentally and economically sustainable path, (2) to provide examples demonstrating how the plan would work, and (3) to keep the media, policymakers, academics, environmentalists, and other decision-makers focused on the process of building a Plan B economy.