Polyethylene, the “white” pollution.

January the 22nd Whole Foods innovated (?) by launching their crusade against plastic bags. No more plastic bags for its privileged customers, it’s time to adapt to save the planet! In order to raise awareness, everybody will participate in their eco-friendly effort to eliminate plastic bags and develop the recycling industry. New phenomenon?

To the example of Ireland, Bangladesh (since 2002), South Africa, Thailand, Taiwan, San Francisco and Oakland finally outlawed the use of plastic bags, allowing only paper bags with at least 40% recycled content and compostable bags.

Among the precursors of environmental issues (?), Ireland put a 22 cents tax on plastic bags, their polyethylene consumption dropped consequently by more 90% since 2002. Bangladesh disposes of bags made of jute or cloth. China, as an economic power and big polluer, banned free plastic bags in the supermarkets, public transportation… by pricing them. what is America doing?

With a smothering consumption up to 3 billion plastic shopping bags a day, China took radical and drastic measures. With a 100 billion plastic bags thrown by the american people, the white pollution is a factl. What is America doing?

If the motivation of each country differs : plastic bags block drains leading to floods, are an excessive source of litter, may contain mercury, lead, cadmium… All in unisson agree that plastic doesn’t biodegrade and is not recyclable (to summarize their problem). Only 1 % of plastic bags are recycled worldwide, 2 % in the US! Nothing in comparison with the international and national consumptions?

Plastic was the ecological solution when the paper bag industry deforested 14 million trees to produce 10 billion paper grocery bags, when its cost was cheaper than paper ( 2 cents per bag whereas paper is 4 to 6 cents and compostable 9 to 14 cents). Nowadays 100 billion of plastic bags cost 12 million barrels of oil and as we get nearer to depletion, draconian solutions must be envisioned.

A positive note and a beam of hope in this polluted landscape, the New York Council just passed a law stipulating that stores that distribute plastic bags will have to take them back from the customers for recycling. This measure was approuved a couple of weeks ago. Lauren Bush was the initiator. The errors of her uncle won’t be conpensated but it’s a beginning.

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