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Town To Work With Local Merchants To Reduce Plastic Bag Use

Featured Town To Work With Local Merchants To Reduce Plastic Bag Use carolinabeach.org

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - The Town of Carolina Beach is teaming up with the Cape Fear Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, to partner with local merchants to help reduce the use of single-use plastic bags and the negative impacts they have on the environment and wildlife.

The Town Council first appointed the Plastic Bag Committee in 2014 to develop an educational program to generate awareness of the impacts that plastic grocery bags can have on wildlife and the environment.

The Committee presented a proposal to the Council in May of 2016 and Council later approved of the program.
According to a release issued by the Town last week to roll out the new program, "The Town of Carolina Beach, in collaboration with the Surfrider Foundation, is teaming up with local businesses and organizations to help spread awareness about the impact that single-use plastic bags have on our beaches and wildlife. Hundreds of species of wildlife are adversely affected every day by marine debris. Single-use plastic bags contribute a large portion of that marine debris. Plastic-Free CB’s mission is to reduce the use of single-use plastic bags and ultimately eliminate them from the coastal environment."

The release states, "We are currently looking for local business owners and organization leaders who would like to get involved and join forces with the Town of Carolina Beach and the Surfrider Foundation."

To learn more about the program and how you can get involved visit the Town's website at http://www.carolinabeach.org/plastic_bag_education_program.php or call Town Hall (910)458-2999.

The Committee's goal is to reduce single use grocery bag consumption in the Town of Carolina Beach by  40% in first year of implementation.

The Problem
- 1 trillion bags consumed worldwide each year.
- 100 billion of which is consumed in U.S. alone.
- 2009 Guinness Book of World Records: Most ubiquitous consumer product.
Energy Consumption:
- 12 million barrels of oil used annually in U.S.
Environmental Impacts:
- Marine Debris - approx. 346 species adversely affected.
- High litterability has negative impacts on tourism.
- Public health concerns due to soil and water contamination.
Disposal:
- Life span of the average single-use plastic bag is 20 minutes.
- Inadequate recycling infrastructure and economic incentive for recycled plastics.
- Plastics never biodegrade and persist in the environment for many years never breaking down to organic material.
Participate as a Business/Organization:
By contributing a $100 "buy-in" fee a business will receive the following:
- 100 reusable grocery bags to sell or give away.
- 100 educational brochures
- 1 window decal to display their participation in the program.
- The Town will include a merchant's logo at the bottom of a page on their website as a participating member.

An annual $100 fee will be charged contributing to purchasing additional brochures and marketing in order to maintain this as a self-sustaining program.

Merchants will be responsible for purchasing additional reusable grocery bags once the  initial 100 have been distributed.
To sign up for the program or if you have any questions please contact Hannah Almeter (910)707-7013 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

According to a presentation given in August 2014, by Ethan Crouch of the Surfrider Foundation and Chairman of the Committee, some parts of the ocean are like a plastic soup, where there are six pounds of plastic for every pound of plankton. Approx. 60-80% of marine debris is composed of plastics Approx. 80% of marine debris is from land-based sources.

Over 100,000 marine mammals die each year from ingestion or entanglement in plastics and over 1 million sea birds.
- 60-80% of marine debris is composed of plastics.
- 80% of marine debris is from land-based sources.

The Guinness Book of World Records named the plastic bag as the most ubiquitous consumer product of 2009, produced on the worldwide scale by the trillions. Approximately 1 million bags are used every minute.
Each year, over 24 billion lbs of single use plastic packing is produced.

In the United States alone, an estimated 12 million barrels of oil is used annually to make plastic bags that Americans consume, which works out to over 100 billion (bags) per year. Manufacturing of plastic bags uses four percent of the world’s total oil production.

Impact of manufacturing 9 plastic bags is greater than that of driving a car 6/10 of a mile. This means that the annual consumption of plastic bags in the US (100 billion) is the equivalent of driving a car 6.67 billion miles… or more than 35 round trips from the Earth to the Sun.

Each ton of recycled bags saves the energy equivalent of 11 barrels of oil.

EPA estimates only 12% of plastic bags are being recycled. In 2011 alone we placed 200 million plastic bags into landfills.
Once plastic has photodegraded to minute pieces in our oceans (often called a plastic soup), these small pieces of plastic are often mistaken by fish, birds or marine mammals and reptiles as food. Plastic particles provide no nutrients. As animals continue to feed on plastic, they take in more and more plastic material until they slowly starve to death.
Plastic is found floating in all the world’s oceans, everywhere from polar region to the equator. A good bit of plastic created contains a chemical called Bisphenol A (BPA) which is an organic compound used to make polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins amongst other things. In general, studies have shown that BPA can affect growth, reproduction and development in aquatic organisms. Among freshwater organisms, fish appear to be the most sensitive species.