Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge
Recycled Materials and Systems Lecture

Astonishing Plastic Bag Facts and Numbers

If there is any subject that will give you crazy numbers, then the rampant use of plastic bags will. From plastic promotional bags to just plain check-out shopping bags taking up cupboard space in your home, they are everywhere. Take a look at these shocking statistics.

  • It is estimated that plastic bags add an extra 850 million dollars in costs annually to retailers in Australia. Although plastic bags may be 'free of charge', this price is built into the product cost.
  • 20 million Australians currently use around 4 billion plastic check-out bags every year.
  • It is estimated that over 1 trillion plastic check-out bags are used around the world every year.
  • That means 1 million per minute.
  • Plastic shopping bags have been produced as we see them today since 1965, over 55 years.
  • Only an estimated 3% of Australia's plastic bags are currently being recycled.
  • In Australia, the annual average cost per household for plastic shopping bags is estimated at 10-15 dollars per year.
  • One farmer in NSW, carried out an autopsy on a dead calf and found 8 plastic bags in its stomach.
  • Currently, the Chinese population uses up to 3 billion plastic bags per day.
  • It has been estimated that it costs governments, businesses and community groups over 4 million dollars per year per to clean up littered plastic shopping bags.
  • Approximately 30 to 50 million plastic bags enter the environment as litter in Australia annually. Not all litter is deliberate. 47% of wind borne litter escaping from landfills is plastic - much of this is plastic bags.
  • A 90% reduction of plastic check-out bags was achieved in China almost instantly when a 2 cent levy was introduced.
  • In the United States, when a 5 cent tax was levied on plastic bags in Washington in 2010, plastic bag consumption plummeted from 22.5 million to 3 million bags in the first month alone.
  • A 90% reduction of plastic check-out bags was achieved in Ireland when a 25 cent levy was introduced on all plastic shopping bags. Some Irish stores have increased their sales of kitchen bin liners by up to 77%. If you look beyond the percentages the actual numerical figures, it illustrate the tremendous success of the Irish bag tax:
  • A 90% reduction in plastic check-out bag usage resulted in an estimated 1.15 billion less plastic bags at the checkout every year.
  • The 77% increase in kitchen bin liner sales only increased the amount sold by an estimated maximum of 70 million plastic bags.
  • Therefore there is an overall reduction in plastic bag usage of over 1.08 billion plastic bags.
  • If the same situation was replicated in Australia i.e. a 90% decrease in plastic bag usage and a 77% increase in kitchen tidy bag sales, this would reduce the amount of plastic bags used in Australia every year by over 3 billion.

Just think how much damage to our environment if we all changed our habits to use truly environmentally friendly and re-usable green bags, which incidentally are much easier and more comfortable to use.

as sent in by Sachin




“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. – Luke 6:37



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