By Racha Adel
Each year, an estimated of 160,000 plastic bags are used globally every second, and 5 trillions are produced yearly, according to a report of the World count.
However, the majority of the plastic bags are not recycled and have an enormous side effect on the environment and the public health.
According to Algerian statistics, there are 7.7 billion plastic bags used annually, which is approximately an average of 200 plastics bags / per year for each Algerian.
This is worrying news, and more so as the manufacturing sector of the plastic bags counts some 600 companies whose majority had a obtained financial support from the government.
In Algeria, the use of plastic bags is very popular for shopping, because they are distributed free of charge by the trader which promotes the abuse of citizens. As a consequence, you can find them everywhere in the country; in the grounds, the street, along the rivers and beaches, and even in the forest, changing the nature’s color.
Why are plastic bags a problem for our planet?
While plastic carrier bags use 70% less plastic than they did 20 years ago, they are still made from polyethylene (PE) which is derived from non-renewable oil and require energy to manufacture.
However, their incineration releases carbonic gas and steam, which is a contributing factor to the greenhouse effect. It also causes air pollution and increases the phenomenon of climate change, the major environmental problem facing the planet.
According to a report by Ecology Center that is a nonprofit organization located in Berkeley, California, that focuses on improving the health and the environmental impacts of urban resident.
The report mentioned:
“In addition to creating safety problems during production, many chemical additives that give plastic products desirable performance properties also have negative environmental and human health effects. These effects include: direct toxicity, as in the cases of lead, cadmium, and mercury – Carcinogens, as in the case of diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP)- Endocrine disruption, which can lead to cancers, birth defects, immune system suppression and developmental problems in children.”
As well, in the aquatic environment, they can change the balance of the ecosystems, by preventing the light from penetrating into the water, which is necessary for the photosynthesis of the vegetable production.
As a result, the development of the aquatic plants and the marine animals are destroyed.In another example, it was proven that the plastic bags constitute a danger to the large marine animals, in particular, the turtles and fish, which can kill themselves when they swallow them.
To investigate more in deep the reality in Algeria and particularly the city of Chlef that is located 230 km from the west of Alger Capital, I went to to differents places in the city where I took photos and video, and I have observed that the plastic bags are everywhere.
You can see the short piece documentary below: