Ban on Plastic - Environment Vs Economy - Seeker's Thoughts

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Ban on Plastic - Environment Vs Economy

 Ban on Plastic - Environment Vs Economy

An outright ban on plastic will have an immense positive effect on our environment. From extracting oil to manufacturing plastic, its production contributes to global-warming greenhouse gas emissions at every stage.

An effective ban also requires significant investments into developing alternative materials and products - hence the logic of taking a phased approach rather than outright bans on single-use items such as plastic bags.

Environmental Benefits

Plastic bag bans can help reduce the amount of single-use plastic waste discarded in landfills and waterways by replacing single-use products with more sustainable options that use paper or bio-derived material such as Notpla. Furthermore, bans help protect the environment from health and safety impacts associated with single-use plastics; such as marine animals ingesting microplastics which can prove fatal (Thompson et al. 2009).

Bans on plastic can also help prevent the build-up of harmful plastics in lakes and rivers that eventually end up washing into the ocean, leading to marine wildlife deaths as well as increasing exposure to toxic chemicals found within plastics.

Utilizing alternatives to plastic bags can have numerous environmental advantages, such as reduced carbon emissions. This is because these alternatives utilize less resources such as energy and fossil fuels when producing their materials than plastic does.

However, it is key that consumers can easily source and purchase alternatives, otherwise black markets could develop. Antigua and Barbuda took this approach when banning plastic bags was implemented gradually so as to give businesses enough time to find replacements before being banned completely. Bans may be even more successful if coupled with fees on paper bags so as to prevent cost increases from directly being passed along to consumers.

Economic Benefits

Plastic pollution has long been recognized as a threat to marine environments, yet its impacts can also threaten plants and animals that live on land. An estimate states that particulate matter from plastic is estimated to make up more than 1 percent of aerosols that travel downwind into less polluted regions, carrying toxic substances into food sources while depriving populations of essential resources.

Banning plastic bag use would help reduce plastic litter that clogs drainage systems and causes flooding, while at the same time reduce the oil required to produce them as non-renewable resources. Furthermore, this would increase sales for manufacturers of reusable bags that create jobs in our economy.

Implementing a plastic bag ban can present several difficulties. Chief among them is business' ability to circumvent or reject these bans by shifting accountability for litter to national governments, lobbying for solutions tailored to business-centred solutions, or encouraging self-regulation (Njeru, 2006). Kenya witnessed business' power lead them to delay its ban five times (Njeru).

Social Benefits

Banning plastic also unites people by helping reduce pollution. When people understand that others care about the same environment as them, they're more likely to join efforts that aim to make things better - this has been one of the primary drivers behind successful community-led initiatives in Finland where plastic bag bans have generated support and participation (Jambeck et al., 2022).

Consideration must also be given to the social impact of any ban when designing it. A phased approach often works best as it gives businesses and consumers time to adapt to a new regime while searching for viable alternatives - something England implemented with their ban on straws, cotton buds and stirrers starting in 2020, which allowed shops to use up existing supplies of these items before the ban took effect.

It is also essential that products banned are replaced with more sustainable options, ideally constructed of biodegradable material like paper or wood and Notpla made from byproducts from sugar-cane processing rather than petroleum-based polymers. Furthermore, businesses and consumers must ensure that any price increases associated with these sustainable alternatives do not go beyond their means.


Though single-use plastic bag bans may bring benefits, they do not address all aspects of marine waste. Governments could take more effective action by adopting policies designed to influence consumer behavior and curb future production and consumption of plastic by imposing levies or encouraging companies to invest in research and development of alternative materials.

Businesses should take steps to avoid being forced into switching to more costly alternatives in response to a plastic bag ban, such as paper bags. Allowing these cheaper alternatives or ensuring there are enough manufacturers (by local sourcing of such products for instance). Furthermore, supporting research into more sustainable materials such as bagasse from sugarcane processing.

Notably, the success of plastic bag bans (PBBs) depends heavily on enforcement and regulation levels. Unfortunately, business power often results in the postponement or rejection of plastic bag bans in certain countries, or their complete disregard altogether; such was the case in Rwanda where large businesses such as RAMCO and Bobmil Industries rejected one outright due to concerns that it would negatively affect profits.

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