The truth about single-use plastic
A staggering 5 trillion single-use plastic bags are used annually around the globe – and each bag takes 1,000 years to decompose. Each bag contributes to the 400 million tons of plastic produced every year. About 2.5 million plastic water bottles are trashed hourly. Over 8 million tons of plastic enter the ocean annually with single-use plastic bottles accounting for 1.5 million tons of ocean waste. Our harmful plastic habits must change or there will be 12 billion metric tons of plastic litter on Earth by 2050. The good news: governments in at least 32 countries have banned plastic bags altogether and at least 127 countries have implemented policies regulating plastic bags according to the United Nations.
“Governments have a critical role to play in addressing plastic pollution at its source by banning single-use plastics,” says Graham Forbes, Greenpeace Global Plastics Project Leader. Countries must hold consumer goods companies and retailers accountable for their reliance on single-use plastic and send a clear signal to the oil and gas sector that the days of extracting fossil fuels to make toxic throwaway plastic are numbered.”
Many countries around the globe are implementing plastic bans and encouraging consumers to replace plastic with alternative materials including biodegradable single-use items and eco-friendly reusable products.
Luxemburg loves the eco-sac
Since 2004 the government of Luxemburg along with Valorlux, a waste management non-profit, have replaced the country’s single-use plastic bag with the Öko-Tut, an eco-sac reusable bag. Eighty-five retailers implemented the use of the Öko-Tut bags resulting in an 85 per cent drop in plastic consumption in the first nine years of the initiative. This has cut down on the use of 920 million single-use plastic bags.
Guatemala goes back to ancestral methods
A Mayan village in Guatemala is on the front lines of the movement against single-use plastics in the country. San Pedro La Laguna established a zero-tolerance policy against plastic bags, straws and containers in 2016 – the first municipal law against single-use plastics in Guatemala. The government collected all plastics from community members and gave them complimentary reusable or biodegradable alternatives as well as handmade rubber basket bags. Villagers have returned to ancestral methods using hoja del maxán (large leaves) to package meat and cloth napkins to carry tortillas. San Pedro La Laguna has influenced other municipalities in Guatemala to implement single-use plastic bans, including Antigua.