While plastic bag bans have been a hot button topic recently in the United States, we aren’t the only country doing it. Bans on single-use polyethylene bags are happening all over the world in countries like Bangladesh, Ireland, South Africa, and China, just to name a few.
Bangladesh was one of the first to do so, starting in 2002 with their capital city Dhaka. Their bag ordinance spread from the capital to the whole country, with the use, production and marketing of polyethylene shopping bags being banned. This was done to prevent flooding caused by plastic bags that blocked drains in the flood-prone, low-lying country. Since the ban passed, people have been using jute reusable bags and other eco friendly and sustainable alternatives. (San Francisco Chronicle)
In March of 2002, Ireland began to charge a 15-Eurocent tax on all plastic bags. Welcomed by the Irish, the ban led to a 95% drop in plastic bag consumption, and just five months after this plastic-bag taxation began, the country cut its bag use by more than 90% while raising 3.5 million Euros in revenue for environmental projects, according to the government (BBC, August 20, 2002). Before the ban, 1.2 billion bags were handed out every year in Ireland. The Irish government has said that in the first three months of the tax, shops handed out just about 23 million plastic bags—about 277 million fewer than normal. (BBC, August 20, 2002)
South Africa banned thin plastic bags in 2002 to help cut littering. The country also put a tax on thicker bags, and many African nations including Eritrea, Rwanda, Somalia, Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda have implemented similar measures in their own countries. (National Geographic News, April 4, 2008).
China banned plastic bags in June 2008 in an effort to cut down on oil use. China uses about 3 billion plastic bags a day, with 37 million barrels of oil being used to produce them annually. Put into motion on June 1, 2008, China’s ban includes the production, sale, and use of ultra-thin plastic bags (those less than 0.025 millimeters, or 0.00098 inches, thick). To add to the beautification effort, the bags are also banned from all forms of public transportation and “scenic locations.” The Chinese government is now encouraging the use of reusable cloth bags, durable plastic bags, or baskets. Durable plastic bags with a thickness of over 2 millimeters can be reusable and help cut down on the issues that may be associated with thinner ones. (Scientific American, May 23, 2008)
As bag bans pop up across the globe, it will be interesting to see what the future has in store for single-use plastic bag. If you have any questions about any bag legislation in The United States, feel free to call us at 1-888-429-5673. Our bag specialists are qualified to explain how this ban affects you, and help you find bags that are in compliance with your local legislation.
Sources: San Francisco Chronicle; BBC; Scientific American; FreeDrinkingWater.com