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Fri 25 May 2007

"Plastic bags needed, but reduce dependence"

Category : coastalcleanup

"Plastic bags needed, but reduce dependence." Letter by Liang Xinyi (Communications Executive, Singapore Environment Council). The Straits Times Forum, 25 May 2007.

"I REFER to the article, 'Plastic bags are not the enemy' (ST, May 12), and would like to address some of the issues brought up.

Plastic bags are needed in our daily lives for various uses (from lining refuse bins to containing wet produce), but excessive usage and wastage of plastic bags, especially empty ones, has many environmental repercussions.

Plastic bags are produced from petroleum, a non-renewable fossil fuel. When burnt, plastic bags emit carbon dioxide and poisonous gases. They take approximately 1,000 years and 450 years to break down on land and in water respectively.

It is thus necessary to reduce our dependence on plastic bags in order to conserve fossil fuel reserves for future generations, as well as to curb carbon dioxide emission to mitigate the climate change phenomenon.

While it is true that plastic bags generally do not constitute an eyesore on Singapore's streets, we should be reminded that this is often thanks to the efforts of an efficient squadron of sweepers and cleaners.

Local coastal clean-ups have revealed that plastic bags are one of the most common forms of coastal debris. Each year, millions of marine creatures and seabirds choke on plastic bags which are washed into or discarded in the waters.

Plastic bags are cheaply and readily available in Singapore, creating the impression that they are 'free'. However, if we include the environmental costs of plastic bags, pre- and post-production, the true costs reflect a staggering price to our environment.

Ultimately, the decision to use plastic, paper or re-usable bags still lies with the consumer.

Everyone should be well informed of the environmental issues surrounding plastic bag usage and aware of the alternatives available before arriving at a responsible decision."

Posted at 10:21AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | email | Raffles Museum news