Americans use an estimated 102 billion plastic bags each year, but less than 1% of them are recycled. Plastic bags are the second most littered item after plastic bottles, research shows. The amount of plastic waste in the US has increased from less than 1% of municipal waste in 1960 to more than 10% by the early 21st century. Plastic bags are not biodegradable, so they are at a high risk of causing problems in the soil or water if they are left in landfills, because more than three-fourths of all landfills are thought to have at least one leak.
More about waste:
- If all of the paper and plastic cups and flatware disposed of each year in the US were placed end to end, it would circle the equator an estimated 300 times.
- California spends about $8.5 million US Dollars (USD) each year to clean up plastic bags from the streets.
- After Ireland started charging for plastic bags in 2002, their use dropped by 90%. The average Irish person uses less than 30 bags each year.