What Are the Main Problems Associated with Using Plastic Bags? Identify Solutions to Reduce These Problems.

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Module code: FC 5012T
Title: Skills for Study 1

Assignment question:
What are the main problems associated with using plastic bags? Identify solutions to reduce these problems.

Word count: 742
Tutor name: Bird, Marianne
City University Number: 110065767
Submission Date: 26/10/2011

Plastic bags have been used on a daily basis since 1977 (Williamson, 2003) as a means of carrying items such as groceries as they are not only convenient but also cheap. However, the over-use of plastic bags has posed significant threats to the environment in recent times as they are non-biodegradable and also a threat to wildlife. The primary reason for this concern is that plastics bags are not re-used, but simply disposed of in landfills.
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Each year there is an increase in demands for plastic bags, and therefore more are shipped, creating further environmental pollution concerns. This increase in demand has lead to the phenomenal upsurge in the use and misuse of plastic bags globally, both in developed and developing countries. Statistics show that 4 to 5 trillion plastic bags are produced per annum, whereby North America and Western Europe account for nearly 80% (Geographical, 2005; Reusable Bags, 2005). Cheeseman (2007) states that approximately “380 billion plastic shopping bags are used in the United States annually”; in turn, only 0.6% of this is recycled.
Almost 96% of plastic bags are disposed of in landfills (Williamson, 2003). This leads up to another problem as plastic bags are non-biodegradable - in other words, plastic bags do not biodegrade for over a thousand years (Stevens 2001). Plastic bags may also land in farms and in oceans which have an impact on the wildlife. Livestock such as cows may eat plastic bags while grazing. These pose a threat if ingested as they may tangle in their stomachs, causing serious injuries and potentially death (Dreyer et al, 1999; Rasmussen 1999). Each year over a billion birds and mammals die due to the ingestion of plastic bags (Baker, 2002).
Many of these issues however, can be addressed and even resolved in several ways. Nowadays, a number of countries have begun to impose taxes on plastic bag consumption, with few even banning the use of plastic
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