Could you possibly imagine 3 billion plastic bags? These are the type of bags you get at the store to carry your purchases home in. Hard to wrap your head around the number. Now imagine roughly 90 billion plastic bags. Insane, 90 billion bags, that is a lot of plastic! Now, just to really make your head spin, imagine over a trillion of them. My head hurts. That is an estimated amount of free plastic bags consumed in China in one year. China is estimated to use 3 billion bags a day from its retail operations. To my shock and dismay China has now said it will force consumers to pay for these free bags and that it is banning them from public transportation and other public places. China is actually starting an initiative to help the environment, but is it going to be enforced? china bag factory
The Chinese government claims that it will. However, other environmental laws are on the books, but rarely enforced. This program may actually be enforced, because the cost of this program is shifted to the consumer and not the businesses. Since China has essentially given businesses a way to charge the customer instead of absorbing the cost this may actually work. Even reducing consumption by a third would be over 300 billion bags a year. That is an impressive dent in consumer pollution. This initiative will encourage consumers to use fabric bags rather than pay for plastic ones (consumers will see it will save them money).
Imagine how fast a landfill is filled up with 3 billion bags a day being dumped. Worse yet, imagine how many of those 3 billion bags are just thrown away as litter in the streets or rivers. There are a lot of benefits to banning these types of bags. Most European countries already charge for plastic bags at stores. That is why you see most European shoppers using fabric bags or other more permanent means of transporting their purchases. This is one way of reducing the amount of trash entering landfills very easily.
Consumers will quickly realize that using fabric bags or another type of container saves them money. It is an initiative that should see dividends pretty rapidly. The big question is, should the United States do the same? Yes. It is pretty simple. We use large amounts of plastic too. Just visit almost any retail store. We buy a lot of stuff and we have to carry it home someway. I think the time is right to initiate the same ban in the United States , or just tax the use of plastic bags. Taxing the bags would give the government another source of revenue. That revenue should be used as a way to fund research into alternative fuels. That would give consumers what they want, cheap plastic bags, and fund a worthy cause. Just a cent a bag would generate millions of dollars a year. Good tax revenue! Consumers, even being charged a penny each, might start using fabric bags. It would be a win-win-win situation.