How Many Ziploc Bags are Used Each Year?
Each year, approximately 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide. This means that every man, woman, and child on our planet uses about 83 plastic bags annually. That's one bag per person every four and a half days. Of those 500 billion bags, 100 billion are consumed in the United States alone.
What are the Advantages of Ziploc Bags?
Despite contrary beliefs, Ziploc Bags have many ecological advantages over using paper bags. For instance, manufacturing Ziploc Bags creates approximately 50% less greenhouse gas, and 80% less waste, and uses 70% less energy than manufacturing paper bags.
Plastic bags are also easier to recycle than paper, as it takes more than 90% less energy to recycle a pound of plastic than it takes to recycle an equal amount of paper. Modern Ziploc Bags are mostly made from natural gas, so when they are recycled, the energy stored in the plastic can be made into new products or recovered.
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What are the Disadvantages of Ziploc Bags?
For all their advantages, Ziploc Bags also create a number of problems for the environment. Many Ziploc Bags end up in the ocean, where they decompose very slowly, breaking into tiny pieces known as microplastics, which can enter the marine food chain and become incredibly damaging to sea life.
Ziploc Bags that end up in landfills or in the environment take over 1,000 years to decompose. During this time, animals come in contact with the material and are at risk. As the plastic breaks down, microplastics are leached into the soil and water.
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What are the Health Risks of Ziploc Bags?
Although Ziploc Bags do not contain PFAS, they contain many synthetic chemical additives, most of which remain unknown or understudied. Meanwhile, many of the chemical additives in plastic bags for which scientific information is available are known to be toxic.
Recent studies have identified many health risks associated with plastic additives such as endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), which have been linked to infertility, obesity, diabetes, prostate or breast cancer, cognitive impairment, and neurodevelopmental disorders.
Can Ziploc Bags be Recycled?
According to SC Johnson, Ziploc Bags can be recycled. However, most curbside recycling programs do not accept plastic bags, so they need to be dropped off at grocery stores or other retailers with specific plastic bag recycling programs. If you put Ziploc Bags in your curbside recycling bin, they can clog recycling facility machines and actually hinder the recycling process.
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