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ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT AND DANGERS OF POLYTHENE BAGS: A Case Study Of Jalingo Metropolis
Plastic shopping bag was designed and made from plastic by Swedish Engineer Mr Sten Gustaf Thulin in 1960s ( http.//www:answerbag.com/q_view 1905324, accessed on 13 June 2010).The design was patented worldwide by Celloplast; well-established company in plastics processing in 1965 (Cherrier,2006). Cherrier (2006) noted that the Company’s patent position gave it a virtual monopoly on plastic shopping bag and associated materials production, and the company set up manufacturing plants across Europe and in USA. Cherrier (2006) further indicated that other companies saw the attraction of the plastic bag and associated products, too, and the USA petrochemicals group Mobil overturned Celloplast's USA patent in 1977.The Dixie Bag Company of College Park, Georgia, owned and operated by Jack W. McBride, was one of the first companies to exploit this new opportunity and it introduced plastic carrier bags to all major shopping stores. The Dixie Bag Company, along with similar firms such as Houston Poly Bag and Capitol Poly, were instrumental in the manufacturing, marketing and perfecting of Polythene bags in the 1980s. Kroger, a Cincinnati-based grocery chain in USA, began to replace its other paper shopping bags with Polythene bags in 1982. It was followed by its rival, Safeway. From the mid-1980s onwards, Polythene bags became common for carrying groceries from the store to vehicles and homes throughout the developed world (Aadland, 2006).
Polythene bags are made from LDPE,(http.//www.answerbag.comp/q.view 1905324 26, Retrieved 17 April 2012.) .One of the main problems of polyethylene is that without special treatment it is not readily biodegradable, and thus accumulates. In Japan getting rid of plastics in an environmentally friendly way was the major problem discussed until the Fukushima disaster in 2011. It was listed as a $90 billion market for solutions. Since 2008 Japan has rapidly increased the recycling of plastics, but still has a large rate of plastic wrapping that goes to waste, (Strife, 2010). Strife (2010) indicated that during the 1980s and 1990s it was shown that many endangered marine species including birds that habituate in the marine environment were at extra hazard of suffocation from swallowing Polythene bags litter or waste. In 2009 it was discovered by a resident of Hawaii upon returning from a ship race that degraded plastics bags were a major cause for marine life destruction .Polythene bags were found to constitute a significant portion of the
floating marine debris in the waters around southern Chile in a study conducted between 2002 and 2005. If washed out to the rivers by runoff water, it can be drained to lakes and seas, thus, Polythene bags can be carried long distances to oceans and lakes, and can strangle marine animals (Clover, 2007)
Plastic carrier bags are sometimes called single-use bags, referring them as tools for carrying shopping goods from stores to homes. The use of plastic carrier bag created new alternatives and opportunities for carrying groceries at home as well as problems for waste and disposal (Mesthane, 1986). Each year millions of discarded plastic shopping bags end up as litter in the environment when improperly disposed of. Due to their durability, Polythene bags waste in form of litter takes centuries to decompose. On land, waste Polythene bags are one of the most prevalent types of litter in inhabited areas. Waste Polythene bags when carried by run-off water can clog drainage systems and contribute to flooding, as occurred in Bangladesh in 1988 and 1998 and almost annually in Manila .Littering is often a serious problem in developing countries, where waste collection infrastructure is less developed than in wealthier nations.