Significance of Plastics

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* Plastic bags are not renewable, which means they cannot be easily recycled like paper bags. They are made of petrochemicals, which is what makes them non-renewable and a risk to the health of the planet. They last for hundreds of years, all the while doing damage to natural habitats and killing animals that mistake them for food. The more plastic bags people use, the greater the chances of environmental damage. Effects

* If not carefully disposed of, plastic bags can be devastating to animal life. DEFRA (Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs) reported that 1,678,900 tons of plastic packaging was in the UK waste stream in 2001. Because plastic bags do not decay quickly, they stay in environments longer, causing more build-up on the natural landscape than a more degradable material like paper would. The Marrickville Council reports that over 100,000 whales, turtles and birds die every year as a result of plastic in their environment. Suffocation

* Infants and young children have died as a result of playing with plastic bags. Every year, the Consumer Product Safety Commission receives about 25 reports of plastic bag-related infant death. Because of the thin, airtight material, infants can easily block their mouths and nostrils with the plastic bag and suffocate. Prevention/Solution

* Abstaining from plastic bag use as much as possible will reduce the chances of accidental infant death, and it will reduce the amount of plastic waste in the environment. A plastic bag is also reusable, though. It does not necessarily have to be thrown away after a single use. Try to use each plastic bag for as long as possible. This will help reduce the number of plastic bags in circulation. Expert Insight

* Some experts want to ban the use of plastic bags entirely. Los Angeles has passed recommendations that will make them illegal in supermarkets by 2012. The British government sees plastic bags as a symbol for a throwaway society. They...
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