What is The Life Cycle of a Plastic Bag?

What is The Life Cycle of a Plastic Bag?

Following the Entire Plastic Bag Life Cycle

Shoppers need a way to get the items they purchase home from the store. For the last several decades, the preferred method has been single-use plastic bags. While these bags offer a lot of convenience to the customer while the bags are in use, they also pose safety and environmental harm in the long-term. These negative drawbacks have caused many consumers to opt for recycled bags instead. By understanding the life cycle of a plastic bag, you can begin to understand the danger these bags present.

Manufacture and Use

Single-use plastic bags are made using natural gas and crude oil. These non-renewable materials are processed into ethylene gas and then further processed and stretched into a thin film plastic. From there the plastic is cut into bags and the bottoms are sealed.

These disposable plastic bags are then shipped to stores where they are used to bag customer’s purchases. Each bag is used by a customer for an average of 20 minutes before the customer recycles it or throws it away.

What Comes Next

Plastic bags that are thrown away will be carted off to a landfill. At the landfill, the bags will take up space as they slowly break apart into smaller pieces of plastic. Given enough time and exposure to the elements, these tiny plastic pieces will leach chemicals and toxins into the ground.

Some disposable plastic bags will be tossed out as litter, while wind and animals may remove bags from landfills. As litter, single-use plastic bags are a danger to animals who may mistake the bags as food or become tangled in the bags. Either way, the end result can be fatal for animals.

Recycling disposable plastic bags is a challenge. The thin bags can easily become tangled in the processing equipment which leads to shuts downs and safety hazards at recycling facilities. Many recycling facilities do not accept disposable plastic bags for these reasons. Difficulty recycling means many consumers do not recycle their old bags. More than 98 percent of the single-use plastic bags handed out are discarded instead of recycled.

What Are We Doing About It

Many municipalities are opting to forgo single-use plastic bags as a solution. Cities, counties, states and even countries all over the world are taking a stand against disposable plastic bags and implementing bag bans. Learn more about the bag ban movement by visiting our map. Reusable bags provide an eco-friendly solution by providing consumers a safe and easy way to carry their groceries home. Many brands are finding that custom reusable bags are also a great marketing opportunity.

At Factory Direct Promos, we work with organizations both large and small to help them create eco-friendly custom reusable bags. Our certifications include GOTS, Fairtrade, ISO 9001-2015, and FEDEX. These certifications are all a testimony of our strong quality and social commitment. Create your own custom reusable bags HERE to make a positive impact on the planet and your marketing efforts.


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