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Should We Ban Plastic Bags

Most likely, but it's difficult to say.

When we pose important questions about how to best manage the planet, that is frequently the regrettable response. We want to support clear policies that are demonstrably superior and more efficient at attaining our objectives so that we may feel good about ourselves as decent citizens. Rarely does reality fulfil these desires?

There are already over 7 billion people on the earth, and that number is rising, and our industrial society consumes a lot of resources. Anything millions or billions of people do will therefore probably have an effect. As a result, there might not even be a good choice.

Additionally, the options that are offered frequently include trade-offs. Thus, the answer to the question of which choice is preferable is frequently, "It depends." It depends on how you phrase the query and how you respond to it. Often, defining the issue is simpler than coming up with a solution.

The issue at hand is crystal clear: single-use plastic items do not biodegrade. They remain alive for roughly 400 years in the environment. They will disintegrate into tiny plastic particles, which persist in the environment and can still be harmful. Microplastics were discovered in the Pyrenees' isolated sections by recent research. They are practically ubiquitous. Our oceans are clogged with plastic, and animals are increasingly coming up dead and bloated with plastic trash.

People who care about protecting the environment as much as possible (which should be everyone) periodically shift their focus from one plastic product to another; currently, plastic bags are the target. According to UN estimates, 1 to 5 trillion single-use, thin plastic bags are produced worldwide annually. Additionally, because these bags are light, they can easily blow in the wind and become tangled on trees and other objects, creating even more issues.

The current course of action is not sustainable, in my opinion, and I have not heard a convincing explanation to the contrary. What will the environment look like after 400 years of plastic use? What will the steady state of plastic waste produced by humanity be? Although we could be inclined to punt this issue to the future in the hopes that their technology will solve it, we might instead think of ourselves as the future that our forebears have punted to.

In any event, it is important to think about what laws and procedures could best lessen this circumstance. As there is no simple solution, this is where the debate begins.

First of all, we must consider several factors before outright excluding one choice. first, what are the alternatives? What will replace the prohibited item, and how viable are those alternatives? We also need to consider any unforeseen repercussions. What impact the restriction or policy change will have on how people behave? We might also be interested in learning about cost and, consequently, opportunity cost. Is this the wisest use of our resources—effort, time, and money?

Two major issues exist when comparing single-use plastic bags to other options: the cost of carbon and waste. These two variables could not result in the same priority.

Single-use plastic bags are a good alternative in terms of carbon cost (actually energy efficiency). Three times as much carbon goes into paper bags. Before replacing plastic bags, cotton-based reusable bags would need to be used hundreds or even thousands of times. The ideal alternative is presumably thick plastic reusable bags, but even so, they must be used at least 100 times before they provide a net reduction in carbon emissions.

Limiting our carbon footprint is becoming a better concept in light of global warming. Therefore, a carbon efficiency complete lifespan analysis is required when discussing transforming entire sectors. Because they are thin, single-use plastic bags are a good alternative in this situation, but the optimal option is for everyone to use reusable bags for as long as possible—at least hundreds of times per person.

Getting rid of waste is given a different priority. Because they produce the greatest waste, do not biodegrade, and end up in the oceans and other aspects of the environment, single-use plastics are possibly the worst choice. Paper bags are preferable since they decompose naturally. Reusable bags are preferable because they end up in the garbage stream much less frequently. So once more, reusable bags are a good choice if you use them frequently.

But there's more to think about. According to studies, when plastic bags are prohibited, consumers purchase more plastic rubbish bags, which are thicker and use more plastic as a result. It turns out that individuals recycle their plastic bags while disposing of trash. According to other calculations, however, this simply cuts the benefit of prohibiting plastic bags in half and does not entirely cancel it out.

The issue of recycling is another one. Purchasing products created from recycled plastic as opposed to virgin plastic has several benefits. But ultimately, they still find their way into the waste stream.

The main issue is that plastic is affordable and practical. It accomplishes the task and is simple to make in bulk. However, we shouldn't always choose the route that presents the least amount of difficulty because it could not take us wherever we prefer. Evidence-based policy is useful in this situation.

To have a system that is more sustainable, we may ultimately need to make a small compromise in terms of convenience. In fact, I like how convenient utilising reusable shopping bags are. They are lighter and can hold more items. Simply plan and make sure they are on hand when you go shopping, by storing them in your car, for instance.

Of course, telling someone to modify their conduct will not automatically result in that change. One solution is to outlaw plastic bags, while another is to simply charge customers for the bags. These steps could be beneficial, but it doesn't appear like they're enough to solve the problem. I believe that we are still lacking a wonderful solution that is easily adopted without causing people to feel inconvenienced, is both waste and carbon efficient, and is optimally sustainable (which affect compliance). Industry must devise some cunning answers. For instance, it would be good if plastic bags could biodegrade quickly and safely.

The best result of a ban on items like plastic bags maybe that. Because we are denying industry of simple but unsustainable answers, it may encourage innovation in that area.


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