When did plastic bans leave in the first place you ask? Well, you can check out the original story on our blog here, but the gist of the story is that during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of cities rolled back single-use plastics bans that were in place or in development in order to accommodate problems associated with the quarantine and pandemic. Now, we get it – it was a global pandemic, the world had a lot going on. But does that really make protecting our planet from plastic less important? NO. Luckily, now that we’ve learned how to live in this new, covid-managed world, single-use plastics bans are coming back with a vengeance, as people are starting to realize the damage we did during COVID.
As of 2021, over 8 million tons of pandemic-generated plastic waste had been produced. To put that in perspective, that’s an ADDITIONAL 8 million tons on top of the 300 million tons we already produce. That’s not an insignificant amount! In a time when our plastic pollution problem was getting worse, why did we consider part of the solution to be removing the legislation that at least did a little bit to reduce the amount of plastic waste we produced, pandemic-generated or not? We should have been striving to put a dent in the 300 million to make room for the 8 million. Instead, we allowed pollution levels to skyrocket, leaving us with an even larger problem than we had before.
Here’s the positive side: single-use plastics bans are back and on the rise. One of the most notable plastic bans going into effect this year was in New York City. NYC has had a plastic bag ban in place since October of 2020. More recently, they’ve enacted a plastic straw and stirrer ban. The ban was enacted in November of 2021, and businesses have 1 year to find and implement alternatives prior to being fined. Fines will begin in November of 2022. The fines for this ban mirror many other plastic straw and stirrer bans nationwide: $100 for first offense, $200 for the second, and $400 for the third and all subsequent offenses.
Having a big city like New York take steps forward to fight plastic pollution is a great example to set for cities not only throughout the US, but throughout the world. It proves that bans like this can be implemented and (hopefully) enforced successfully in large cities. It’s estimated that the USA used 1.6 straws per person per day. If we apply this to New York City (a population of 8.419 million people), that means that they’ll be keeping 13.47 million plastic straws from heading to oceans and landfills EVERY DAY. That’s nearly 5 BILLION straws saved per year in a single city in the US. Imagine if every large city in the world had bans in place like this. Imagine the dent we could make in the plastic pollution problem.
Plastic pollution doesn’t just put marine life at risk, but it can put terrestrial wildlife and humans at risk too. When animals consume plastic and then we consume meat, we are consuming the same chemicals that those animals did. It’s estimated that in a year, we consume as much as a half a pound of plastic. Is that really a number we want to continue to rise? Plastic bans are a great place to start fixing this problem. More cities should take a page out of New York’s book. Plastic bans are back, and it’s time for the world to get on board.