Should single-use plastics be banned?


via Wikimedia Commons

Plastic waste is very harmful for the environment

Everything appears harmless on its own – a straw in iced coffee, a plastic bag to carry takeout, a candy bar wrapper. People scarcely notice these modern conveniences because they are so frequent and quickly abandoned. On the other hand, single-use plastics have a significant environmental cost that we will pay for millennia. Our plastic addiction is wreaking havoc on our oceans, biodiversity, and health. Simply put, single-use plastics are commodities created mostly from fossil fuel-based chemicals (petrochemicals) and intended to be discarded immediately after use—often within minutes. Bottles, wrappers, straws, and bags are classic examples of single-use plastics in packaging and service ware.


Plastic, which is essentially a chain of synthetic polymers, was invented in the mid-nineteenth century, but its popularity didn’t take off until the 1970s. Manufacturers began using lighter, more durable, and less expensive plastic jugs for traditional paper or glass staples; for example, plastic jugs replaced milk jars. Plastics have been produced at a rate of 8.3 billion metric tons per year since the 1950s, with half of that created in the last 15 years. Surgical gloves and straws for individuals with impairments are only two examples of practical and significant uses for plastic. However, these cases account for only a minor portion of all single-use plastic. Plastic packaging accounts for more than half of non-fiber plastic, which excludes synthetic fabrics such as polyester and nylon, according to a 2017 research, and much of it is for single-use items.


Single-use plastics are a perfect example of throwaway culture’s issues. Rather than investing in high-quality items that will last, we frequently favor convenience above durability and long-term implications. We are creating an alarming amount of garbage because of our reliance on plastics. We produce 300 million tons of plastic each year, with half of it being utilized for single-use goods. This is equivalent to the weight of the whole human population. The most efficient way to avoid this waste is to reduce the usage of plastic (and the impacts linked to plastic production and use). Carrying reusable bags and bottles is a fantastic approach to reduce single-use plastics in our daily lives; for more information on minimizing plastic waste, see the links below.


Waste management systems, our oceans, and vulnerable people throughout the world are all being strained by plastic. Plastic bag bans, straw bans, stirrer restrictions, and takeaway clamshell bans are among the many single-use plastic regulations sweeping the country and the world. (Some countries are even considering outright bans on single-use plastics; India, for example, plans to do so by 2022.) Malibu, Berkeley, Seattle, and Miami Beach are among the US localities that have made plastic straws illegal. Bans on plastic bags, ideally combined with a fee on paper bags, are gaining popularity. What do the prohibitions achieve? Every year, they save millions of tons of plastic from entering the trash stream. And every ton counts when it comes to waste that lasts forever. Residents of New York use 23 billion plastic bags each year. Single-use plastic bans not only reduce pollution, but they also cut demand for plastic production, which contributes to global climate change. Beyond these ramifications, however, the bans have cultural ramifications. Companies are being compelled to innovate, rethink their designs, and seek environmentally friendly materials. They also assist in shifting consumer mindsets as individuals realize that excessive and needless waste is not sustainable.