Argumentatative Essay Example
Banning Plastic Sacks in Grocery Stores
Grocery stores have for a long time relied on the provision of plastic sacks for customers’ use in carrying shopping and other staffs purchased. The uses of the plastic bags are however on the increase due to the overwhelming preference of them to the paper sacks. American Plastic Council estimated in conveying purchases home, plastic shopping sacks accounted for 95% of the grocery and convenience store market in 2008 as compared to the 80% in 2003. According to the statistics, this implied an annual consumption of 99 to 100 billion plastic bags (Mansvelt, 403). The increase in the usage of the bags indicates a clear preference of them over other forms of packaging such as the paper sacks. There is however concern on the impacts of the plastic sacks on the environment with arguments on whether or not to ban the usage of bags and adopt environmentally conscious manufacturing (Deanna, 5).
Plastic sacks have been considered important since they are reusable; according to the environmental Life Cycle Analysis, their environmental impacts are minimal compared to the paper sacks. The popularity of the plastic sacks is certainly tied to their strength, convenience, comparative cheapness and ease of availability. Of course the plastic sacks are reusable; after conveying the groceries home, the backs can be reused for various domestic purposes such as for storage as well as litter bins among other uses. The other un-purposed alternative uses that the plastic bags serve makes the banning of such products controversial as it may instead lead to a demand of more special purpose ones. Another issue of essentiality is that the companies that produce the plastic sacks often contribute a lot to the growth of the economy. In the midst of efforts to ban the plastic sacks in many states in the US, the plastic bags lobby has emphasized on the manufacturing companies’ approximately half a billion dollar contribution to the economy. In addition, the Film and Bag Federations, proposed that compared to the use of the paper grocery sacks, the production of the plastic sacks consume 40% less energy, produce 80% less solid wastes, produce 70% less solid atmospheric emissions and release less than 70% fewer waterborne wastes (Mansvelt, 403). The paper sacks are also more bulky compared to the plastic sacks making their transportation difficult (Muthu, Subramanian, and Yi Li, 86).
On the other hand, the plastic sacks have also been considered to have other negative impact, no wonder the push for their use in groceries has been enforced. The plastic bags make up huge amounts of litter, are not biodegradable, interfere with the marine ecosystem and have contributed to human deaths through blockage of drainages. The negative impacts of the plastic bags usage largely outweigh their positive contributions and therefore the ban on their usage should be effected.
The proponents of the need to ban the use of plastic sacks in the groceries have also come up with several arguments pointing out to the need to outlaw the production and use of the sacks. Worldwide, it is estimated that between 500 billion and 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed annually, translating into more than one million sacks consumed per minute. It is estimated that nearly 3% of these bags end up in the litter stream. I the United Kingdom for instance, 17 billion plastic sacks are provided by the groceries annually which results into 60,000 tons of plastic entering the landfill (Mansvelt, 404). The plastic bag litters have serious consequences on the ecosystem and environment in general. Research has established that the litter generated by the plastic bags kill thousands of marine creatures annually particularly by getting entangled into the sacks or mistaking them for food. According to the Blue Ocean Society for marine Conservation, more than one million birds and 100,000 marine creatures become perish as a result of the plastic bag litters.
Even in the depository landfills, the plastic bags have been deemed to take up to 1,000 years to degenerate. Apart from the long period of degeneration, the process itself results in the release of toxins to the environment. The toxins lead to the contamination of the water sources as well as the soil besides blocking the natural flows of oxygen and water through the soil. The alternative to the incineration usually results in the release of the toxins and the carcinogens into the air causing the air pollution. Moreover, the manufacture or production of the plastic bags utilizes the nonrenewable raw materials or resources such as petroleum or the natural gas. Across the world, the plastic sacks have contributed to the choking of the sewer systems. The blockages of the drains resulting from the plastic sacks results in floods which have been responsible for many human deaths for instance in Mumbai where 400 people perished from floods in 2005. Conventionally, it has also been established that the plastic bags do not biodegrade easily rather merely fragment endlessly. For instance in the case of a cow which died in New Delhi where no less than 35,000 plastic bag fragments were found in its stomach (Mansvelt, 404).
Considering the above facts, it is certainly true that the plastic bags have adverse effects on human safety as well as environmental impacts. The concerns related to the negative effects of the plastic sacks largely overrides the cited merits of the products. The plastic products interfere with the marine ecosystem killing many marine mammals. The plastic bags produce enormous amounts of litters. The efforts to manage the litters, whether through landfills or release into the atmosphere, results into contamination of the soil, water and air contributing to pollution of the natural resources as they are not biodegradable and take very long time to degenerate. The plastic sacks to the extreme cases have been associated with the deaths of humans and animals. As a result, it is worth considering the banning of the production of the plastic sacks and their consequential use in the grocery stores for the well being of humans as well as environmental conservation.
Deanna J. Richards, (1994),»Environmentally Conscious Manufacturing», World Class Design to Manufacture, Vol. 1 Iss 3 pp.15 – 22 Retrieved on 14/05/2015 from: <http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/09642369210056601> Top of Form
Mansvelt, Juliana. Green Consumerism: An A-to-Z Guide. Los Angeles: Sage Reference, 2011. Print.
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Muthu, Subramanian S, and Yi Li. Assessment of Environmental Impact by Grocery Shopping Bags: An Eco-Functional Approach. , 2013. Internet resource.
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