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THE PLASTIC FUTURE?

We still do not know just how badly we are polluting the world. It is becoming more obvious that the multi-nationals and supermarkets are only interested in profits and not in the effects on our environment and health.

Oil is an essential source of energy, yet the inescapable truth is that it is running out. The only question is when.

Car manufacturers are always striving to design and produce more efficient engines, but can more be done to reduce our dependence on oil? The answer is yes. The unfortunate truth to who is helping the price of oil to rise could be looking back at you in the mirror.

We now live in the throwaway society. Almost everything we buy is in a plastic container such as milk, soft drinks and water. Supermarket carrier bags and black bin bags are all made from plastic.

What are other Countries doing and can we learn from them?

Belgium. Government impose a tax on all free bags in 2007.

Denmark. Government imposed a levy as far back as 1994. Use of plastic bags has fallen by two thirds.

Germany. Supermarkets charge between 4p and 20p for single use bags.

Italy and Spain. Plastic bags have been banned since last year.

India. Plastic bags are banned. Shops risk one months suspension of trading.

Ireland. A tax, now at 16pper bag, was introduced in 2002. Use has dropped by 90%.

Kenya. Thin plastic bags banned in 2007. Heavy tax imposed on imported thicker bags. Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania have adopted similar policy.

Switzerland. Plastic bags cost 10p.

Taiwan. Plastic bags phased out 2003.

What are we doing? The answer is nothing. Tesco, Britain’s biggest retailer, opposes both charges and a ban for plastic bags. Between 2006 and 2010, WRAP (Waste Resources action Programme) was in charge of monitoring bag numbers and it reported a 48 per cent fall over the four years. However, Environment ­Secretary Caroline Spelman let the monitoring regime lapse in May. The Government currently has no ­policy on plastic bag reduction, despite pledges by David Cameron and Nick Clegg when in opposition.

Miss Spelman has kicked the issue into the long grass, with a ‘waste review’ that will not report until next April and decisions on policy likely to come much later. At the same time, the supermarkets and their trade body, the British Retail Consortium, have refused to draw up any new reduction targets. The BRC has admitted it has no idea how many bags are now given out. In May last year, 475 million plastic carrier bags were given by our supermarkets to their customers. Less than 1% are recycled and most of the rest end up in our land fill sites. They have a life span of about 1,000 years!

These containers and bags are made from a plastic called Polyethylene Terephthalate, PET for short. It is made from a combination of natural gas and Petrol.

Here are some frightening statistics:-

In 2006, 31.2Bn litres of water were consumed in USA alone. (Pacific Inst. of America) This required over 900 tons of plastic which needed 17.6m barrels of oil to produce.

In 1997, Captain Charles Moore on returning from a boat race in Hawaii chose a short cut back to California along the edge of the North Pacific subtropical Gyre, an area normally avoided by seafarers. This is a high pressure zone where several currents converge. This brings flotsam from the coasts of South East Asia, North America, Canada and Mexico.

He discovered an island of plastic and flotsam twice the size of Texas, or over five times the size of the UK. It is 10m deep, and 90% plastic. UN research has established that Navies and commercial shipping dump 639,000 plastic containers per day in our oceans. This represents 20% of all plastic dumped in our oceans, the other 80% is from land.

Captain Moore has established that America alone produces 105 trillion plastic bottles per year. This would consume 59Bn barrels of oil per year. A barrel of oil contains 42 US gallons, 35 Imperial gallons, (or for those that prefer it, 159 litres). This equates to 2.1 Trillion imperial gallons per year.

If you want to do your bit, find us on http://www.goecofriendly.org.uk

David Hodges

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Source by David Hodges

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