You may have read last month that Victoria announced a ban on plastic bags starting this July. While undoubtedly convenient, these single-use bags create a tremendous amount of waste. Think about how many you use in an average week and where they end up; now multiply that number by millions of other people. Not only are landfills running out of space, but much of this plastic debris is ending up in the ocean.
The North Atlantic Garbage Patch is an island of plastic trash of increasingly immense proportions. Plastic is, of course, non-biodegradable, which means it will be around for potentially hundreds of years. Not only does this garbage (2/3rds of which is actually below the surface) impede sea life, it can even cause significant misery and death for them, should they consume any of the plastic.
The human race needs to make a significant course correction in regard to our reliance on plastic in so many things. We produce about 100 billion tons of it per year and 10 billion of that ends up in the ocean. While massive trawlers could snare the garbage, much sea life would also get caught up and perish as a result. That also still leaves the question of where to then put all of this waste. It’s a difficult situation with no easy answers.
Plastic can be recycled, and many countries do this, but it is not enough alone to stem the tide. Some companies, fortunately, are doing their part. UK chain Iceland recently announced that is plans to eliminate all plastic packaging by the end of 2023. That country’s government has vowed to stop plastic waste entirely within the next 25 years.
These are positive steps, but the public needs to be better educated and more vocal on this topic in order for change to happen on the mass scale required.