Plastic bags – action required



Dear mayor, please help. Your beautiful country is a plastic dumping ground. Take a boat out into Jomtien Bay and see the plastic waste carpet. We need action,

The Republic of Ireland introduced a charge of 15 euro cents (12p, 20 US cents) per bag in March 2002, which led to a 95% reduction in plastic bag litter. Within a year, 90% of shoppers were using long-life bags.

Every year 800,000 tonnes of so-called single-use plastic bags are used in the European Union – the average EU citizen used 191 of them in 2010, the Commission says, and only 6% were recycled.

More than four billion bags are thrown away each year.

“The impact of this plastic waste can be seen littering our landscape, threatening our wildlife and accumulating as ‘plastic soup’ in the Pacific Ocean, which may cover more than 15,000,000 sq km,” says Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik.

Recent research into chemical additives in plastic have been linked to problems associated with human health, and this is where there is an issue with plastic particles. Plastic is breaking down into smaller and smaller pieces and entering the food chain and releasing chemicals into the fish that eat them (Zarfl & Matthies, 2010). These particles are ingested by fish and retained within their digestive system, slowly releasing chemicals into their bodies. Furthermore research has shown that the plastic surface of these particles is absorbing chemicals from the surrounding water (Kosier, 2010). Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) are being found in concentrations on marine plastics in several orders of magnitude higher than they are free in the water (Thompson, 2010). The same POPs have been associated with numerous detrimental health conditions.

Matt Jomtien