Know The Facts

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Only 9% is Ever Recycled

In 2018, Science Advances launched the first ever global study of plastics produced, documenting what happens to plastic items after use. They found that only 9% of all plastics are ever actually recycled. That means 91% winds up in landfills, as litter or marine pollution and in our area, plastics are incinerated. Even if plastic is collected in a recycling container, it doesn't mean it ends up recycled. Recyclable plastic is a commodity.  If a buyer can't be found, or if a batch becomes contaminated, these large loads of collected and transported plastics don't end up recycled and can end up in landfills or incinerators instead.

Not Biodegradable

Plastic can take hundreds of years to degrade. This is causing a huge accumulation problem, especially in marine environments. Plastic never goes away. Instead it degrades into small particles known as microplastics. This releases toxins into soil and water, and the small pieces can also adsorb and concentrate other pollutants, such as PCBs, dioxins and other persistent organic pollutants (POPs). 

That's A Lot of Plastic

  • The EPA estimates over 380 billion plastic bags, sacks and wraps are consumed in the U.S. each year.
  • Shoppers in the U.S. use 100 billion plastic checkout bags annually. CT residents use a billion bags.
  • A plastic check-out bag is used for only 12 minutes.
  • Four out of five grocery bags in the U.S are now plastic.
  • The average family accumulates 60 plastic bags in just four trips to the supermarket, and takes home about 1,500 plastic bags per year.
  • More than 100,000 plastic bags end up in the Long Island Sound each year.
  • The U.S. consumed 13,710,500 gallons of bottled water in 2017, the second largest globally, despite being only 4.27% of the world's population. 
  • 69.5% of bottled water consumed in the U.S. is from PET single-use plastic water bottles. Less than a third of these plastic water bottles are recycled.. Most are upcycled into other plastics, while bottled water manufacturers continue to produce new bottles each day, primarily from virgin materials.

Impacts on Human Health and Animals

  • The non-profit Worldwatch Institute reports that at least 267 species of marine wildlife have suffered from entaglement or ingestion of marine debris, most of which is composed of plastic.
  • Tens of thousands of whales, birds, seals and turtles die every year from contact with ocean-borne plastic bags. Plastic is being mistaken for food. Sea turtle diet includes jellyfish, which turtles have trouble distinguishing from plastic bags.
  • A recent European Commission study on the impact of litter on North Sea wildlife found that 90% of birds examined had plastic in their stomachs.   
  • Several studies show that microplastics bioaccumulate in fish, shellfish and wildlife, and can end up on our dinner plates.
  • Microplastics in waterways can adsorb toxic chemicals, like PCBs, dioxin and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) on their surfaces, and become hundreds of times more toxic than surrounding waters. These toxins are transferred to the human body as bioaccumulated plastics move up the food chain.

Fossil Fuel Burden

The feedstock for plastic bags comes from fossil fuels, ethane separated from natural gas or petroleum refinement. Fossil fuels are used to produce initial material and chemicals, manufacture bags, deliver for use and later to haul away as waste. This continuous manufacture and disposal of single-use bags is a waste of energy and contributes to the growing climate change crisis.  A switch to reusable bags helps the environment and our children's future.