Facts About Recycling Plastic Bags
Plastic bags are one of the most common wastes in landfills and the ocean. While recycling plastic bags has historically been difficult, it is not impossible, and there will likely be a high demand for services dedicated to dealing with these products until we see a worldwide decline in production and usage – especially in light of COVID-19 and the temporary ban of reusable bags in so many places of business. We look into plastic bag recycling statistics to help you get to the bottom of the process so you have all the knowledge you need to reduce, reuse and recycle plastic bags efficiently.
1. The initial plastic bag was not intended to be a one-time use item.
Sten Gustaf Thulin, a Swedish engineer, designed the plastic bag we know today in the 1960s. Thulin was the first to build a simple one-piece bag with a large load capacity, despite other multi-material bags invented in the preceding decade. On the other hand, Thulin designed these long-lasting bags to eliminate the need to cut down trees for paper bags.
2. Each year, between 1 and 5 trillion plastic bags are used.
While it’s impossible to quantify the exact extent of plastic bag usage, it’s believed that 5 trillion plastic bags are used each year globally! Despite recent demands for a reduction in the usage of plastic bags, effective plastic bag recycling will be critical in dealing with a large number of bags already in use.
3. Each plastic bag is only used for 12 minutes on average.
We already know that most plastic shopping bags and produce bags are only used once, and lobbyists for the plastics sector are primarily to blame for this addiction. However, each plastic bag is projected to be used for just 12 minutes before being tossed on average. Regardless of whether certain companies desire to maintain single-use bags in circulation, customers can refuse bags, keep them in use for longer, and ensure that they are redirected to plastic bag recycling initiatives.
4. A bag takes more than 500 years to decompose.
Shopping bags are not only non-biodegradable, taking up to 500 years to degrade, but they also leak microplastics into the environment once they do. Microplastics have already been detected at every level of the food chain; much has been written recently about their dangers. However, the full impact of microplastics is still unclear.
5. Plastic bags are recyclable on their whole
The negative consequences of our overuse of plastic bags are apparent, but the good news is that they are 100% recyclable. The majority of bags are composed of high-density polyethene (HDPE), low-density polyethene (LDPE), or linear low-density polyethene (LLDPE), all of which may be recycled with the right equipment.
6. Plastic bag recycling is a relatively new concept, but it is gaining popularity.
It’s vital to remember that bags aren’t generally recyclable through your curbside pickup. Because plastic bags become entangled in the mechanisms of normal machines, they must be recycled with special equipment developed for this material. However, plastic bag recycling programmes are becoming more popular, and some municipalities now provide this service.
7. Plastic bag recycling is now available at most large retailers.
Many nations have implemented legislation mandating businesses to assume greater responsibility for this type of waste, leading to the establishment of plastic bag recycling centres. Plastic bag recycling bins are typically seen in places where bags and plastic films are produced and distributed. Look for a sign at your local shop indicating a plastic bag recycling drop-off place.
8. Plastic bags are frequently recycled to produce additional plastic bags.
Most plastic bags are recycled into more plastic bags due to low-quality materials and inefficiencies. As a result, reducing and reusing is always the better alternative. Some plastic bag recycling firms, on the other hand, are already producing plastic “timber” that is used to construct park benches, fences, and even playground equipment.
9. Biodegradable bags aren’t always the best option.
Some firms are now developing biodegradable bags as the drive to eliminate non-biodegradable plastic bags gains traction. However, the environmental claims made about these goods are often unproven, and some have been shown to degrade extremely slowly. Because of the large number of bags supplied, switching wholesale to these items may not be the best option. It is preferred to reduce and reuse, and bringing your own bag is the only certain method to reduce trash.
While addressing the widespread use and risks of plastic bags will take time, both businesses and consumers must take action. Plastic bag recycling must continue to grow, but, given the current number of materials in circulation, product reduction must be prioritised to help plastic bag recycling facilities stay up with demand.