Science News

American Samoa bans the bag

Thu, 9th Sep 2010

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There's good news for the oceans, with the announcement that American Samoa, a group of Pacific Islands, will ban the use of all plastic bags next year.

Itís a bold step that has been made at a local level in various countries, including the town of Modbury in the UK, Fort McMurray in Canada, and the American city, San Francisco Ė while various countries and corporations, including China, are trying to stop shops from handing out free plastic bags.

Turtle and plastic bagsPlastics have only been around for a few decades, so the scary truth is that at the moment we donít really know how long it takes for them to break down once they have been thrown away. What we do know is that plastic bags are a major source of pollution in the oceans. Sea turtles mistake them for jellyfish and eat them, choking themselves in the process. They can entangle all sorts of other marine life, and even if they do break down into smaller pieces, these can leach nasty chemicals into the environment.

Thereís no doubt at all that making and throwing away fewer plastic bags has to be a positive step for the oceans.

Well done American Samoa. It was a shame that the state of California in the US voted against taking the same ban.


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