Over 10 million new lightweight plastic bags are handed out in Australia every day. 50 million of these end up as litter every year, polluting our streets, parks, rivers and oceans. These bags block storm water drains, cause waterway and habitat disruption and are consumed by native wildlife.
The average plastic bag is used just once yet can last for around 1000 years! Plastic bags break up into smaller plastic pieces so they never really leave our ecosystems. Plastic bags have only existed for about 40 years and believe it or not, there was life beforehand. Just ask your parents or grandparents what they used before plastic bags.
The growth of plastic bag consumption and its improper disposal currently significantly outpace any efforts to recycle or reuse. Only about 2% of plastic bags in Australia are recycled and producing recycled materials uses copious amounts of energy. Plastic bags themselves are made of fossil fuels including crude oil and gas, so they are not biodegradable. When plastic bags do break down, they readily soak up (and release) toxins that then contaminate soil and water, as well as harming animals that ingest plastic fragments.
A better solution is to reduce our use of plastic bags altogether.