The cost of answering “Yes.” totals to about $37.50 annually; plastic grocery bags are not as free as we would have believe! There are the fees in manufacturing and collecting that are not so hidden but we are overlooking and are ultimately being charged for.
A retail store’s monthly expense for grocery bags typically totals “$1000-$4000”. They are paying for the manufacturing expenses of transporting the “polyethylene” pellets to the manufacturer’s facility. Plus the energy consumption of processing the pellets into a more grocery bag material. Which, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration, totals to about 1 quadrillion BTUs and “equal to about 1.7% of total U.S. electricity consumption”.
And if wasting resources wasn’t bad enough; when processing the pellets into a more “durable, flexible, and transparent” material; the process includes adding chemicals that are unsafe for the environment.
First thing’s First: STOP PUTTING PLASTIC BAGS INTO YOUR HOME RECYCLING BINS!!
Plastic bags jam the recycling equipment; which are expensive to repair/replace. Take your CLEAN bags instead to a “Store Drop Off” recycling bin: search for one near you at the link below.
Yet even with all these great resources to recycle; only about .6% of plastic bags make it to the recycling facility. The rest ends up in landfills and in drains that go out to the ocean. Landfills contain about “3.5 million tons” of plastic bags and a single plastic bag takes about 1000 years to photodegrade. And in the ocean, exposing ocean animals result in a deadly mistake when they mistake it for food; “267 species…affected by plastic marine debris.” To prevent hurting any sea creatures; we could implement “bag litter control” program. But think about this; in San Francisco, alone, the program cost about “$318,000 a year”. Even more recycling charges would be coming out of our (tax payers) pockets as we already pay for the collection of our garbage which includes recycling.
In simpler terms the manufacturing and recycling of these “free” grocery bag by companies (in which these companies exist purely to make a profit); someone somewhere eventually has to pay for their expenses and surely we (consumers) are the ones being robbed blindly.