The Fantastic Life Cycle Of The Ordinary Plastic Bag

The plastic bag is a necessity of our consumer routines. They allow us to increase our carry load by placing produce and items into a lightweight and cheap plastic bag. Unfortunately because of its popularity many upon many plastic bags are used daily and are often more than not, not disposed of properly. Here we will explore the production, use, and disposal of the full life cycle of the plastic bag.

Extraction and Production
First oil is extracted from the depths of earth’s crust, albeit from land or from the ocean. The oil is then refined into both propane and ethane.

The rest of the oil doesn’t go to waste though; oil can also be made into other chemical chains such as octane which is sued as gasoline for your car. These components are then broken down using heat – also known as cracking – into ethylene and propylene and are mixed with other catalysts into fluff. Then the fluff is melted down into plastic pellets which are sold to various companies and factories to produce a plethora of plastic products. The pellets that make up plastic bags are molded into a plastic tube which after some cooling is rolled up. After it is rolled up, they are printed on with the desired logos and such.

Consumer Usage
The average bag is usually only used for 20 minutes and are used only once or twice before being disposed of. The average American used 216 bags annually with 1 million bags being used every minute in the United States. All these bags do add up, totally to about 100 billion bags per year, costing retailers over $4 million annually. World-wide more than 1 trillion bags are used every single year. 

Waste and Recycling
All these plastic bags have to end up somewhere now. They don’t just disappear from our lives, as much as we’d like to think whenever we throw them out. They do build up and can cause major pollution to the environment with dire consequences if not recycled properly.

If a plastic bag is not recycled properly then it will rot either in the oceans or

in a landfill for an equivocal period of time. They may break down over hundreds if not thousands of years, because although the bag will break apart in 50 or so years, the actual polymers and plastic will not decompose for a thousand years or so. In the meantime the plastic scrap poses a threat to sea life that is unfortunate enough to encounter this trash. And the chances are quite high seeing how plastic bags are the second most common ocean refuge second to cigarette butts. In fact there is so much of this garbage that surrounding currents in the Pacific Ocean have collected a massive pool of plastic waste. This area is known as The Great Pacific Garbage Patch and is approximately twice the size of Texas; it is so large that it is easily visible from space. Even when the plastic bags diffuse apart, it is still hazardous to the environment for it is still very toxic and increases pollution.

And this completes the lifecycle of the plastic bag; unfortunately most bags will not make full circle, but instead they will be trapped in the oasis of plastic refuge in the Pacific Ocean. So please, find a plastic bag drop off location so that you can help to complete the life cycle by recycling the bag back to its plastic pellets so that they can be used to make other plastic “life-forms”.

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Tags: life, cycle, plastic, bag, pollution, garbage, patch, ocean,
Category: Science

Article Written By GDop26

RIT student

Last updated on 22-07-2016 163 0

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