A Solution to the Plastic Bag Problem

A Solution to the Plastic Bag Problem

A Solution to The Plastic Bag Problem?

We all use plastic products. We use them at home, in the office and everywhere in between. Plastic is mass-produced and cheap, and as a result we have become reliant on plastic bottles, bags, and cups. Yet the increased availability of plastic has brought with it a host of environmental problems, included overflowing landfill sites, contamination of ground water and damage to our oceans and the wildlife which inhabit them.

The problems caused by plastic bags

Plastic bags don’t degrade, they just break down into smaller, toxic bits. A plastic bag can take up to 1000 years to fully break down. In the meantime, they contaminate waterways and soil, and they cause harm to animals. Plastic makes its way into the oceans, and it traps wildlife or they ingest it. 90% of the debris in the oceans is plastic.

The search for a solution in South Africa

A working group has been set up in South Africa to look at why plastic bags are often rejected by recycling companies. The group includes packaging specialists, retailers, and recycling companies.

Many plastic bags used by retailers contain a calcium carbonate filler, which makes the bag denser, but harder to separate from contamination at the point of recycling.

The working group are going to look at what level of filler needs to be included in the plastic bags before it affects their density, and also alternative technologies and methods that might be used to deal with plastic containing such fillers. The working group are set to report back their findings at the end of the year.

Plastic bag manufacturers have their say

Representatives from the plastic industry state that most retailers are aware that fillers are used in the manufacturing process and they know that adding fillers allows the manufacturer to keep production costs down and therefore they can pass the cost savings to them. They are also keen to point out that the higher the outlay a retailer has for plastic bags, they will eventually have to add the cost onto products to make their money back, which would impact on consumers.