Source: Eco Liberty
Date: 19 October 2017
Author: Matthew Miller
I recently heard something on the radio talking about Countdown banning single use of plastic bag by 2018 in New Zealand. So decide write about plastic bags and what are the issues about them and what are the alternatives? For me I lay in the somewhere in the grey area because I thinking the alternatives to plastic shopping bags; why plastic should be banned?
Firstly let talk about what plastic bag do look like and what are they? Bags is something that you carry things in. Plastic bag is make out of Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) which have a recycle code 4 as well as petrochemical. Most Plastic Bag where design for single use for carrying goods from shops and may be used as a rubbish bag
The history of plastic bags: American and European patent applications relating to the production of plastic shopping bags can be found dating back to the early 1950s, but these refer to composite constructions with handles fixed to the bag in a secondary manufacturing process. The modern lightweight shopping bag is the invention of Swedish engineer Sten Gustaf Thulin. In the early 1960s, Thulin developed a method of forming a simple one-piece bag by folding, welding and die-cutting a flat tube of plastic for the packaging company Celloplast of Norrköping, Sweden. Thulin’s design produced a simple, strong bag with a high load-carrying capacity, and was patented worldwide by Celloplast in 1965.
Celloplast was a well-established producer of cellulose film and a pioneer in plastics processing. The company’s patent position gave it a virtual monopoly on plastic shopping bag production, and the company set up manufacturing plants across Europe and in the US. However, other companies saw the attraction of the bag, too, and the US petrochemicals group Mobil overturned Celloplast’s US patent in 1977.
The Dixie Bag Company of College Park, Georgia, owned and operated by Jack W. McBride, was one of the first companies to exploit this new opportunity to bring convenient products to all major shopping stores. The Dixie Bag Company, along with similar firms such as Houston Poly Bag and Capitol Poly, was instrumental in the manufacturing, marketing and perfecting of plastic bags in the 1980s. Kroger, a Cincinnati-based grocery chain, began to replace its paper shopping bags with plastic bags in 1982, and was soon followed by its rival, Safeway.
Without its plastic bag monopoly, Celloplast’s business went into decline, and the company was split up during the 1990s. The Norrköping site remains a plastics production site, however, and is now the headquarters of Miljösäck, a manufacturer of waste sacks manufactured from recycled polyethylene.
From the mid-1980s onwards, plastic bags became common for carrying daily groceries from the store to vehicles and homes throughout the developed world. As plastic bags increasingly replaced paper bags, and as other plastic materials and products replaced glass, metal, stone, timber and other materials, a packaging materials war erupted, with plastic shopping bags at the center of highly publicized disputes.
In 1992, Sonoco Products Company of Hartsville, SC patented the “self-opening polyethylene bag stack”. The main innovation of this redesign is that the removal of a bag from the rack opens the next bag in the stack. This team was headed by Wade D. Fletcher and Harry Wilfong.
Environmental Concerns with Plastic Bag: There is a lot environmental Concern with Plastic Bags but not just plastic bag but with non-biodegradable plastic materials which is made with petrochemicals. Even the mainstream news has admitted that plastic maybe a bigger threat than climate change which that the case because climate change is never issue because the sun is the main driver of climate change and don’t cause much damage to the marine life as non-biodegradable plastic would.
Because plastic bags are so durable, this makes them a concern for the environment. They will not break down easily and as a result may be harmful to wildlife. Each year millions of discarded plastic shopping bags end up as plastic waste litter in the environment when improperly disposed of. The same properties that have made plastic bags so commercially successful and ubiquitous—namely their low weight and resistance to degradation—have also contributed to their proliferation in the environment. Due to their durability, plastic bags can take centuries to decompose.
On land, plastic bags are one of the most prevalent types of litter in inhabited areas. Large buildups of plastic bags can clog drainage systems and contribute to flooding, as occurred in Bangladesh in 1988 and 1998 and almost annually in Manila. Littering is often a serious problem in developing countries, where trash collection infrastructure is less developed than in wealthier nations.
Plastic bags were found to constitute a significant portion of the floating marine debris in the waters around southern Chile in a study conducted between 2002 and 2005. If washed out to sea, plastic bags can be carried long distances by ocean currents, and can strangle marine animals.
What are alternatives?
Good news that there are alternatives to plastic bags and I list them below.
Paper Bags: Paper Bags are good alternatives to plastic shopping bags But trees are required to be cut down for paper that goes into making those shopping bag. But those papers bags are biodegradable and less damaging to the environment.
Cassava Starch: These bags are made with Cassava starch. They look like regular plastic shopping bags and they don’t contain any petrochemicals that makes the Low-density polyethylene (LDPE). The bags are biodegradable will make a great replacement for plastic bag. The video down below show that
Corn Starch: Similar to the bags that made with Cassava Starch, they also don’t contain any petrochemicals
Hemp: Hemp shopping bags are made with hemp wool as canvas which that came from the hemp plant. Hemp is environmentally friendly; hemp can be used to make many things including hemp plastic
Canvas bags: Canvas comes in many forms including cotton and hemp and you can use it for shopping or to carry things. They do last a long time and is better for the environment.
I have list the alternative and I hope that what you would need to know. For me I did have some Non-Woven Polypropylene (NWPP) shopping bag which I use for shopping and as an alternative to plastic bag and which can buy them in many supermarkets. Many countries or region in countries have banned or tax plastic and here image below
I understand why those countries have either banned or tax the used of plastic. Because of the environmental concerns like landfills, polluted waterways as well clogged up sewers, animals getting caught in plastics bags especially sea creatures. If a country banned want to ban plastic bag firstly they would want to promote an alternative to plastic bag like paper bags for example.
Here number of the countries that had banned plastic; Bangladesh, China, India, Taiwan, Macedonia, South Africa, Kenya, France, Italy, Australia (Northern Territory, South Australia, Tasmania and Australian Capital Territory) and many other countries. Problem with banning plastic bags, you only prohibited the use and manufacture of plastic bags; the problem is still there because plastic bags mount up in the landfill. But there a solution the pollution caused by plastic bag; is to turn back plastic bag into a form they were. Plastic bags are made low-density polyethylene (LDPE) Plastic which is made from non-renewables like oil or coal. Plastic be melted using pyrolysis to turn plastic into oil. You can found on youtube but I will a video down below
Usually I talk about setting up a pyrolysis that you can setup yourself. The person in the show I have shown you; he made his unit pyrolysis unit for what he had available in his own garage to convert plastic into fuel. This proves that it have something lying around in your garage you can make your own pyrolysis unit and start converting plastic into oil. If you thinking about making your own pyrolysis unit to your plastic waste into oil; it’s always pay to do your own research and willing to take responsibility for your own action and the willingness to learn from your own trials and errors.
Here a diagram on the left to show how converting plastic to oil using pyrolysis works. and show the Furnace & Reactor, Condenser unit and Liquid product collector. and give example how pyrolysis would be used to plastic into oil. For plastic into fuel firstly plastic have to be convert into oil and secondly the oil have to refined. The oil can be refined into kerosene, gasoline, diesel, and what oil can refined into.
Solution to our plastic pollution is to covert plastic back it’s form it was once was. Pyrolysis is one of the solution which can be with low or high tech. There might be other solution our plastic pollution.
Matthew Conclusion:For me I don’t pick sides; I think independently what I post on Eco Liberty and I why write and post article. I’, glad for what countdown is doing to phase out single use plastic bag and out supermarket in New Zealand and ones in countries across the world. Plastic bag ban only stop more plastic bag going to landfills. It’s won’t solve the plastic pollution because plastic takes a very longtime to breakdown. this video below shows that why plastic can last a very longtime.
The video prove that why banning plastic bag is not solution it may stop more plastic bag going the landfill but there are things that do contain materials plastic like bottles, containers, tanks, toys, etc. they also end up on landfills. There are countries that banned single use plastic bags or there are countries that are planning to ban single use plastic bags, and there are countries not planning to ban single use plastic bag or not anytime soon. either way there are solution to plastic pollution; like converting plastic into fuel or using worms or fungi that do eat plastic. Together we can clean the plastic pollution that is affecting the today environment that is affecting wildlife and our everyday life.