According to the website Earth 911, reusing or recycling one ton of plastic means the equivalent of 11 barrels of oil are saved, but really does that matter when you consider once the bags exist, they are here to stay? Here are some disturbing facts and figures about plastic bags:
Plastic bag facts (From Envirosax.com)
In 2008, China started to ban stores from offering free plastic bags; previously, China had been using 3 billion plastic bags a day, according to Treehugger. One of the most substantial efforts has taken place in Ireland, where a tax has been issued on each plastic bag. Paying the equivalent of 20 cents tax per plastic bag used in a store has led to a 95 percent decrease in usage. Maybe we could cut our national deficit with a plastic bag tax, and reduce usage in the US by 95% as well! And whenever possible, ditch the plastic and choose products with as little packaging as possible!
According to the Natural Environment website, 60 to 100 million barrels of oil are required to manufacture a year's worth of plastic bags worldwide, and it takes approximately 400 years at least for a bag to biodegrade. Unfortunately, plastic is the most a common material choice for packaging and carrying in the current disposable society in which we live. Here's the problem, if it takes over 400 years to biodegrade, technically, it's not disposable at all. In reality, we are NEVER getting rid of it, we're just moving it from point A to point B for it to remain at point B FOREVER, or at least 400 years.The impact of plastic bags on our environment is enormous. . Approximately 100,000 sea turtles and other marine animals die every year because they either mistake the bags for food or get strangled in them, says Natural Environment. The "plastic soup" patch floating in the Pacific Ocean is twice the size of the continental United States and is roughly 80 percent plastic, according to The Independent, a British newspaper.
Gone are the days when Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives began and ended with the aim of giving back to the community. CSR programs of large companies have now grown to include environmental concerns, largely as a result of growing consumer awareness and to some extent, governmental regulation. Of course, the fact that green CSR initiatives usually save the company a lot of money, while generating immense public goodwill is not overlooked by companies. Consequently, more and more industries are making environmental activism a part of their CSR programs.
Most companies, large or small, choose to focus green initiatives in CSR on four major areas – reviewing environmental impact, reduction of environmental impact, promote energy efficiency and conservation of water. The process invariably starts with an assessment of the environmental impact of the company’s overall operations including raw material sourcing, manufacturing, distribution and administration. Once the impact has been assessed either in terms of carbon footprint or greenhouse gas emissions, the next step is to formulate methods to reduce this by a measurable quantity within a certain period. Promoting energy efficiency has the two-fold advantage of conserving non-renewable sources of energy and cutting operating costs. Many companies undertake retrofitting efforts or installing sources of renewable energy as a part of this conservation effort. Water conservation by promoting efficient use of water and recycling waste in an effort to prevent contamination of groundwater is another major component of green CSR initiatives.
In addition to this, companies may also go in for implementing new environmentally friendly policies on a company-wide basis and this may include all the major factors mentioned in addition to ethical labor policies and environmental disclosure. Companies have embraced green CSR by promoting green restaurants (McDonald’s), hiring executives to formulate green CSR policies (Microsoft) and integration of green CSR into business strategy (IBM). Many businesses now recognize that it is important to get into green CSR at an early stage because in addition to stabilizing the environment, it makes sound business sense. Boeing, for example, was one of the first companies to invest in fuel efficient jet engines at times when oil was cheap, and is now poised to supply fuel-efficient engines to the aeronautical industry.
Insider Green Nov. 2009 (www.insidergreen.com)