With San Francisco being the first city in the United States to ban the use of plastic grocery bags, it is only a matter of time before other cities catch on. Before 1982 we never had the option of “paper or plastic”, we always brought our groceries home from the supermarket in paper bags that we could burn, throw out or simply use again. The “new” option of plastic bags has created quite the recycling conundrum for our nation.
Due to the light weight nature of plastic grocery bags, they have the tendency to be picked up by the wind and blown into streets and bodies of water. This horrid act of littering is becoming out-of-hand because sometimes we are contributing to the problem without even being aware. Our landscape has become littered with plastic bags and there seems to be no way of stopping it, right? Wrong. If all cities were to follow San Francisco’s lead and ban plastic bags, we could in theory, eliminate this problem.
Customers are required to pay a 10 cents bag fee to the supermarket when they need to use a paper bag provided by the store. The government is attempting to require all people to bring their own bags to the supermarket. Reusable bags are a great solution for the recycling problem in our country. The fee charged for paper bags will be used as a disincentive for customers and encourage them to bring their own reusable bags. According to Mark Daniels, who is the Vice President of the association who heads the plastic bags alliance, he states the ban has so far affected about 4-5% of the US population.
Another solution could be to compensate people who recycle their plastic bags, like we do with aluminum soda cans and glass bottles. We could set up recycling centers around the country that can turn plastic bags into another material and pay people a minimal fee for turning in their bags. You may be thinking, who will turn in a bunch of plastic bags for a nickel, but those who collect cans and bottles will most certainly jump on this train of recycling as well.
According to the city of San Francisco the plastic bag ban will reduce the amount of plastic waste that is sent to the landfill. This ban will also reduce the city’s cost of waste disposal and litter collection. The OEA estimates the savings will be $0.1 million annually for litter and $0.6 million annually for waste. The concept of the plastic bag ban began in 2007 and it is just now garnering the attention of the rest of the nation. To read more about the plastic bag laws, you can go to plasticbaglaws.org.
As Americans we can go through 10 billion plastic bags in one week, and only 1% of those bags are recycled. If this fact alone is not cause for change then I do not know what else would be. If we do not do something about this ever growing issue immediately our grandchildren, great grandchildren and so on, will grow up in a world covered in trash. Due to the slow process of decomposition of plastic bags, our landfills are overflowing with grocery bags.
Do your part and reduce, reuse and recycle your grocery bags. Reusable grocery bags can be found all over in stores. If you want to avoid the upcharge, bring your own grocery bags. When you are ready to rid your home of all of your plastic bags, remember to recycle. If you feel inclined to clean out your home while finding all of your used plastic bags, give Budget Dumpster a call and we can provide you with a dumpster rental for all of your waste you cannot or do not want to recycle.
Source: Earth 911