Photo: Jim Loring/Tearfund

From: Footsteps 59

We all have a role to play in reducing the damaging effects of pollution

Plastic bags are easily carried by the wind. They hang in bushes, float on rivers, flap from fences, clog drains, choke animals and affect the way the landscape looks. Few plastic bags are recycled and most types of plastic bags take hundreds of years to decay. In South Africa, plastic bags are so common they are called the ‘national flower’. In India, around 100 cows die each day from eating plastic bags that litter the streets.

Efforts have recently been made in some countries to reduce the use of plastic bags.

Ireland
ACTION TAKEN Shop customers must pay a tax of 15 cents per plastic bag.
OUTCOMES

Taiwan
ACTION TAKEN Free provision of plastic bags by shops banned.
PENALTY Up to US $8,600 fine for shops.
OUTCOMES

India
ACTION TAKEN Production, storage, use, sale and distribution of polythene bags banned in states such as Himachal Pradesh, Goa, Kerala and Maharashtra.
PENALTY In Himachal Pradesh, up to seven years in prison or US $2,000 fine for anyone using a polythene bag.
OUTCOME Limited impact because the ban is not well enforced.

Bangladesh
ACTION TAKEN Polythene bags banned.
PENALTY 10 years’ imprisonment or a US $17,000 fine for anyone making polythene bags and a US $9 fine for anyone found using one.
OUTCOME Jute bags are now used more widely. This has encouraged the jute industry.

South Africa
ACTION TAKEN Use of thin plastic bags banned.
PENALTY Up to ten years in prison or US $13,800 fine for shops using thin bags.
OUTCOMES

Discussion questions

Based on information from the BBC and UK Guardian newspaper websites, and Ravi Agarwal of Toxics Link, India www.toxicslink.org 

 

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