Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Single-use plastic bags, a staple of American life, have got to go, the United Nations' top environmental official said Monday.
Although recycling bags is on the rise in the United States, an estimated 90 billion thin bags a year, most used to handle produce and groceries, go unrecycled. They were the second most common form of litter after cigarette butts at the 2008 International Coastal Cleanup Day sponsored by the Ocean Conservancy, a marine environmental group.
"Single use plastic bags which choke marine life, should be banned or phased out rapidly everywhere. There is simply zero justification for manufacturing them anymore, anywhere," said Achim Steiner, executive director of the U.N. Environment Programme. His office advises U.N. member states on environmental policies.
Bans on the use of plastic bags are already quite mainstream in other parts of the world. In the UK, for instance, Marks & Spencer charges customers 5p for each plastic bag they use, with the money raised going to an environmental charity. Evidence from China likewise suggests the positive waste-eliminating effects of banning plastic bags. Perhaps it's time for other countries to jump on the BANdwagon, too (sorry, I couldn't resist).
Photo credit: Indigo Shire Council