The Plastic Bag Industry

Plastics are classified based on their polymer backbone. Just as there are many varieties of plastic, there are several different ways to process plastic. It depends on what the ultimate product needs to be. Most plastic bags consist of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, sulfur, or chlorine.

Plastic bags are usually made up of the plastic type polyethylene. Basically it consists of units called ethylene, which are repeated in the plastic and joined together by strong bonds. Plastic bags came into the spotlight during World War II and have been popular ever since. This type was the first plastic in US to reach sales of more than billion pounds per annum. Shopping bags, garment bags, trash bags and packing material all use polyethylene. You?ll notice that even these shopping bags can vary in texture. Plastic bags in groceries are flimsy while at malls you get more sturdy types. If the polymer making up the plastic is highly branches, it gives a flimsy finish.

Petroleum and natural gas are the key ingredients that are used by the plastic bag industry. This usage of non renewable energy sources has sparked debates among environmentalists who claim that it?s such a waste to direct valuable energy towards what?s becoming an environmental hazard.

The plastic industry is now looking towards making degradable bags, like those use starch as a raw material. Another way to make plastic less durable is to add a UV light absorber so that it will break down when exposed to sunlight. These procedures are more environmentally friendly but more expensive at the same time.

Plastic bag industries have spoken out against any bans that may be implemented on the use of plastic bags. They say that the environmental concern is exaggerated and that there is no conclusive evidence that marine life is endangered by discarded plastic bags. They even assert that paper bags (an alternative for the plastic bag) do not degrade much faster than their plastic counterparts. Even some environmentalists will agree that banning plastic bags does not seem like a good idea in the long run because it will encourage use of paper bags (and in turn more cutting down of trees). That?s why plastic bag industries embrace the idea of recycling. Some companies have even started to make the thick variety of plastic bags that can be reused several times, thus reducing the amount of plastic used in general.