Plastic Bags and Petroleum

What’s the link between plastic bags and petroleum? Plastic bags are made from petroleum, which means plastic bags are one way we are depleting our oil supply.

Plastic bags and petroleum are intrinsically linked.  About 8% to 10% of our total oil supply goes to making plastic. It is estimated that about 12 million barrels of oil a year are used in making the plastic bags used in the US.

An average American throws away about 10 bags a week. That’s 520 bags a year–a fuel equivalent of 60 miles of driving.  In total, the US throws away an estimated 100 billion plastic bags annually. When you look at it from the perspective of families and individuals, it’s another way that little actions create big impacts.

Petroleum is a precious resource and bags should be too. Plastic deserves better. Bags deserve to be reused, not thrown away.

Note: Here’s how scientists calculate the petroleum equivalent of a bag: It takes .48 MJ to produce a bag. MJ stands for megajoule, which is enough energy to heat a liter of water to boiling. That .48 MJ of energy comes from the petroleum that the plastic itself is made from, as well as the petroleum burned as energy in the manufacturing process to make the bag. An average car consumes 6.7 MJ in driving 1 mile, or the equivalent of 14 bags per mile driven. These statistics come from

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