LEARN THE FACTS

Back to Take Action

THE GREAT PACIFIC GARBAGE PATCH


pacific garbage patch
Image Source: San Francisco Chronicle


Be part of the solution and kick your single-use bag habit!

BACKGROUND ON SINGLE-USE PLASTIC BAGS:

  • Introduced in the 1970's as an alternative to paper bags, plastic bags now account for 80 percent of grocery bags given out, according to the American Plastics Council.3
  • According to the United States International Trade Commission, in 2008, U.S. consumption of imported and domestically produced Polyethylene Retail Carrier Bags was reported to be 102,105,637,000.10
  • A study conducted by Boustead Associates (2007) states that, "EPA data from 2005 show that 21% of the kraft paper grocery bags are recycled and 5.2% of the plastic grocery bags are recycled."8

DID YOU KNOW?

  • "Solid materials, typically waste, that has found its way to the marine environment is called marine debris. It is known to be the cause of injuries and deaths of numerous marine animals and birds, either because they become entangled in it or they mistake it for prey and eat it."2 Read More
  • "At least 267 different species are known to have suffered from entanglement or ingestion of marine debris including seabirds, turtles, seals, sea lions, whales and fish. The scale of contamination of the marine environment by plastic debris is vast. It is found floating in all the world's oceans, everywhere from polar region to the equator."2 Read More
  • The Great Pacific Garbage Patch has mistakenly been referred to as the largest landfill in the world, a floating island, and a trash vortex. According to the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is most accurately represented as a "plastic soup" where the plastic is distributed throughout the water column.9 Read More
  • Of more than ten million pieces of garbage picked up on ocean beaches in 2009 during International Coastal Cleanup Day, 1,126,774 were plastic bags. Plastic bag debris was second only to cigarette butts/filters (21%) in number and accounted for full 11% of ALL marine debris picked up.4 Read More
  • The reason that turtles ingest marine debris is not known with certainty. It has been suggested that debris, such as plastic bags, look similar to, and are mistaken for jellyfish. Studies on dead turtles reported ingestion of marine debris in 79.6% of the turtles that were examined from the Western Mediterranean (Tomas et al. 2002), 60.5% of turtles in Southern Brazil (Bugoni et al. 2001) and 56% of turtles in Florida (Bjordal et al. 1994)2 Read More
  • According to research done by Captain Charles Moore on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, it has been found that there are six pounds of plastic for every pound of plankton in the area.5Read More
  • If everyone in the United States tied their annual consumption of plastic bags together in a giant chain, the chain would reach around the Earth's equator 776 times!10 


BACKGROUND ON SINGLE-USE PAPER BAGS

  • Each year the United States consumes 10 billion paper grocery bags, requiring 14 million trees.6
  • Five industries account for 68 percent of all energy used in the industrial sector. Pulp and paper accounts for 6 percent of energy usage making it the fourth largest contributor7.

Sources:
1. Wall Street Journal.Paper or Plastic? A New Look at the Bag Scourge. - View Full Article by Jeffrey Ball
2. Greenpeace. Plastic Debris in the World's Oceans. - View Full Report by Allsopp, Walters, Santillo, and Johnston
3. National Geographic News.Are Plastic Grocery Bags Sacking the Environment? - View Full Article by John Roach
4. International Coastal Cleanup sponsored by Ocean Conservancy Report. September 2010. - View Full Article Report
5. United Nations Environment Programme.Out In The Pacific Plastic Is Getting Drastic. - View Full Article by Captain Charles Moore
6. National Cooperative Grocers Association.Paper or Plastic? NCGA Suggests Neither. - View Full Article
7. Energy Information Administration. International Energy Outlook 2009, Industrial Sector Energy Consumption. - View Full Article
8. Boustead Consulting Associates. Life Cycle Assessment for Three Types of Grocery Bags - Recyclable Plastic; Compostable, Biodegradable Plastic; and Recycled, Recyclable Paper.Pg 41. View Full Report
9. Algalita Marine Research Foundation. Frequently Asked Questions. View More Information
10. U.S. International Trade Commission. Polyethylene Retail Carrier Bags from Indonesia,Taiwan, and Vietman. Publication 4080. May 2009, pg. IV-7. View Full Report
*Calculation is based on the following: 2008 bag consumption, according to U.S. International Trade Commission = 102,105,637,000. Earth's Circumference = 131,480,184 feet, Average bag length = 1ft.