Banning Single-Use Plastics
Protecting Our Health and Oceans

Executive Summary

Every day, we use millions of plastic bags, straws and utensils, and foam cups and containers for just a few minutes before tossing them, and then they can pollute our environment for hundreds of years. We can protect our health and marine animals by banning or limiting these products, as hundreds of communities and nine states have already done. Banning Single-Use Plastics describes the specific problems, actions, and best practices for reducing these polluting items.

The plastic waste crisis

  • U.S. homes and businesses throw out enough plastic to fill a football stadium 1.5 times every day on average and that amount is increasing.
  • Only 8% of this plastic is recycled – 92% is landfilled, incinerated or littered.
  • Plastic products break down over hundreds of years into microplastic particles that persist and accumulate in the environment.

Plastic threatens marine animals

  • Enough plastic enters the oceans every year to fill five grocery bags stacked on every foot of coastline around the world. This plastic is harming and killing marine animals in huge numbers by entangling them, blocking their digestive tracts, spreading disease and leaching harmful chemicals.
  • All sea turtle species and nearly half of all seabird and marine mammal species have ingested plastic.
  • The stomach contents of two dead whales that washed ashore in recent years contained 88 and 64 pounds of trash, respectively, mostly plastic.

Plastic threatens our health

  • Microplastics have been found in the food we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe. A recent study estimates that humans could be ingesting up to a credit card’s worth of microplastics every week.
  • Some plastic additives and chemicals have been found to interfere with brain development and disrupt the hormone system, and some chemicals that cling to plastics can cause cancer and birth defects.