Threats to Marine Life
Every year, over 6 million tonnes of rubbish is dumped into the world’s oceans. An estimated 80% of this is plastic, and 10% is plastic bags. Plastic is responsible for killing 1 million sea birds and over 100,000 sea mammals each year. Turtles, whales and sea birds mistake plastic bags for food or get entangled in them, resulting in painful injuries or even death. Fish and other sea animals eat broken down plastic which is ending up in us when we eat seafood.
They litter our landscape
Plastic bags are the fifth most littered item in Victoria.
The impact of disposal
Australians dispose of an estimated 4 billion plastic bags, or around 20,000 tonnes of plastic to landfill each year. These plastic bags are filling up our already limited landfill space as well as polluting waterways and oceans when they escape from landfill sites.
Clean Up Costs
It is estimated that it costs governments, businesses and community groups over $4 million each year to clean up littered plastic shopping bags. Here is an interesting calculation ….
In 2004 The City of San Francisco estimated the cost of clean up and landfill at 17 cents per bag. Here is how they calculated the cost per bag for the 50 million bags used in that city per year.
Contamination of recycling stream: $1.09 million/year = 2.2 cents per bag.
Collecting and disposing of bags: $3.6 million/year = 7.2 cents per bag.
Removing bags from streets: $2.6 million/year = 5.2 cents per bag.
Processing in landfills: $1.2 million/year = 2.4 cents per bag.
Total cost per bag in SF alone: $8.49 million/year = 17 cents per bag