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May 08, 2002

Planet Earth's new nemesis?

BBC News

Countries around the world are beginning to make moves to curb society’s appetite for the ubiquitous single-use plastic bag. A relatively recent world-wide phenomenon, plastic bags are now consumed in staggering numbers and are responsible for massive disposal problems including unsightly litter, flooding, and the death of both land and sea animals that mistake them for food. Made of polyethylene, they are also hazardous to manufacture and take up to 1,000 years to decompose.

Now a revolt is occurring as many nations tackle mindless plastic bag over-consumption and resulting pollution. Since March 2002, Irish supermarkets have been charging a mandatory .15 cent tax on each new plastic bag. The tax was introduced to curb the major litter problem created by disposable plastic bags marring the landscape so treasured by the Irish and tourists alike. Shoppers have adjusted quickly and have welcomed the move, arriving at stores “pre-armed” with bags. Superquinn, one of the largest grocery chains, says the number of bags it distributes has dropped by 97.5%. The UK is now considering implementing a similar plan. Other countries already implementing or considering legislation to control plastic bag pollution include Bangladesh, India, Singapore,

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