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Day Without Foil Packaging | Justyna Jurek-Suliga, PhD

23.01.2022 - 14:38 update 06.05.2022 - 11:24
Editors: jp
Tags: inżynieria materiałowa, save the date, polimer, save the date

23 January


Save the date with our scientists

„Save the date” is a series of articles that have been written to celebrate various unusual holidays. The authors of the presented materials are students, doctoral students and employees of the Faculty of Science and Technology of the University of Silesia.

23 January is Day Without Foil Packaging.

…Shopping bag, disposable bag – these are the common names of plastic bags. Justyna Jurek-Suliga, PhD,from the Institute of Materials Engineering of the Faculty of Science and Technology of the University of Silesia, dealing with the topic of biodegradability of polymers, talks about where they came from, why and how to do without them….


Fot. UŚ archive


Institute of Materials Engineering

“Don’t throw it away – use it!”

Shopping bag, disposable bag – these are the common names of plastic bags. Justyna Jurek-Suliga, PhD,from the Institute of Materials Engineering of the Faculty of Science and Technology of the University of Silesia, dealing with the topic of biodegradability of polymers, talks about where they came from, why and how to do without them.

Foil bags – an extremely practical and life-facilitating invention of the 20th century. Most of us cannot imagine our everyday life without these thin plastic bags, used by almost every store we visit. Regardless of whether we buy groceries or shop at a branded clothing boutique, we can almost guarantee that we will leave the store with a plastic bag or foil packaging, plastic cup, or box. Often, products, both food and industrial, are packaged multiple times and are surrounded by several layers of packaging. Unfortunately, it is certain that when we get home, we will quickly remove them like a child opening Christmas presents and throw away the packaging without thinking. Have you ever wondered what happens to those plastic bags? Have you ever wondered how many of them we consume individually during the year?

The history of disposable handbags dates back to 1912, when the owner of a grocery store in the United States – Walter H. Deubner stated that it was necessary to create a product that would allow his customers to easily transfer their goods home. He invented and created a bag made of thick paper, which turned out to be a bull’s eye, because soon after the Deubner product made a dizzying career all over the world.

The monopoly of the paper shopping bag lasted more or less until 1965, when the Swedish engineer, Gustav Thulin Sten, invented and patented a polyethylene version of the bag, which soon gained more recognition than the paper bag, due to its strength and, above all, functional properties, because rolled up, it could fit in the hand, and when not in use, it could be hidden in a purse or pocket In the 1970s, the foil bag gained a new marketing function, as it began to be printed with an advertising inscription or the logo of the store in which they were purchased (the so-called advertising bag).

Currently, about 500 billion plastic bags are used in the world. Just think how many of these bags will litter our entire planet. This has an extremely detrimental effect on the environment, wildlife and even human health. Plastic pollution is a global catastrophe and unfortunately it is a man-made disaster.

The marine ecosystem suffers the most from plastic pollution. We receive information about the enormous scale of damage caused by plastic waste. Statistics say that an average of 31 species of marine mammals ingest plastic discharged into the oceans, more than 100 species of seabirds ingest plastic artifacts, and more than 250 species become entangled in plastic waste. Deep in the ocean are huge reefs made of all kinds of plastic waste, and plastic bags make up the staggering majority. The problem is so serious that these great floating islands of rubbish stretch hundreds of miles, like great monuments to the wastes of humanity and the neglect of the world we live in.

In order to minimize the amount of plastic bags placed on the market every day around the world, more and more countries decide to impose legal restrictions on their distribution. In France, Australia, South Africa and Alaska, the use of plastic bags is strictly prohibited. The authorities of Delhi, the capital of India, went a step further, because for breaking the ban on the use of plastic bags and polyethylene packaging, in the form of plastic on commemorative cards or foils for magazines, they imposed a penalty of up to 5 years imprisonment and 100,000. rupees fine. Plastic can only be used there for the transport of biomedical waste. China has also joined the fight against plastic bags, where until recently about 3 billion bags were used every day, for distributing plastic bags less than 0.025 mm thick, the seller may by charged with fine and confiscation of goods and profits. Similar restrictions have already been introduced by Bhutan, Bangladesh and Rwanda. Some UK supermarkets offer customers who come with their own bags a small refund or loyalty points.

Today we celebrate the International Day Without Plastic Bags, which was created by Bag Free World – a global initiative to get rid of single-use plastic bags around the world. The aim of the venture is to promote the protection of the environment by encouraging all of us to stay away from the use of plastic bags and instead look for more environmentally friendly alternatives.

The International Day Without Plastic Bags aims to raise awareness of these very real and pressing problems associated with this most popular single-use storage device. We are reminded that these bags that we collect from sellers are used for an incredibly short amount of time, usually under 25 minutes, and then disposed of. By comparison, it takes ONE second to produce one plastic bag, and after using 10 billion bags, 55,000 tons of waste are created. This day gives us the opportunity to remind ourselves and others that each of our actions and each bag we throw away has an impact on the lives of all of us and future generations. When we throw out plastic it disappears from our thinking but unfortunately, it does not disappear so quickly from our world. The fact is that plastic bags stay in the world for 100 to 500 years before they eventually decompose completely.
How to celebrate the Plastic Bag Free Day? Well, there are many good ways to celebrate today and the easiest one requires a simple solution on your part. Even if it’s just for a day, choose paper over plastic, and even better – bring your own shopping bags. Another way to celebrate the International Plastic Free Day is to develop a habit of taking your purchases from the store in a basket or backpack, or to make your own shopping bag, which will perfectly emphasise our individuality and, above all, reduce the consumption of plastic. You can also go one step further and try to eliminate all or most of the plastics you surround yourself with at home or at work.

So let’s face it, if we can do it on that one day,
we can do it for the rest of the year, right?”

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