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Single-Use Plastics: Is this an Issue that can be Solved through Legislation?

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Single-use plastics pose a threat to the environment and wildlife. These plastics have been shown to leach contaminants that impact land, water and air. Recently, legislation has been proposed around the world to combat the issue of plastic pollution, and many nations, including the United States, China and Chile, have already implemented fees or bans to reduce the use of single-use plastics. The effects of the litigation have only recently been assessed and the environmental changes that have resulted following bans or fees can be quantified to measure the success of the litigation. Public perception of these litigation efforts may also have an impact on their success and quantification of the effects of these efforts is typically obtained through surveys and questionnaires. Proposals to reduce plastics have not gone unopposed, and opponents argue that single-use plastics are cost-effective and minimally harmful if comprehensive recycling programs are set in place. This lack of agreement and cooperation between sides creates a social cost that must be associated with single-use plastic bans. By weighing the social costs against the environmental benefits, we can determine if reducing plastic waste through legislation is truly the best solution. In the end, this study provides historical evidence through cases such as China and Ireland that bans or fees on single-use plastics lead to enormous reductions in their use and production.

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Single-Use Plastics: Is this an Issue that can be Solved through Legislation?

Single-use plastics pose a threat to the environment and wildlife. These plastics have been shown to leach contaminants that impact land, water and air. Recently, legislation has been proposed around the world to combat the issue of plastic pollution, and many nations, including the United States, China and Chile, have already implemented fees or bans to reduce the use of single-use plastics. The effects of the litigation have only recently been assessed and the environmental changes that have resulted following bans or fees can be quantified to measure the success of the litigation. Public perception of these litigation efforts may also have an impact on their success and quantification of the effects of these efforts is typically obtained through surveys and questionnaires. Proposals to reduce plastics have not gone unopposed, and opponents argue that single-use plastics are cost-effective and minimally harmful if comprehensive recycling programs are set in place. This lack of agreement and cooperation between sides creates a social cost that must be associated with single-use plastic bans. By weighing the social costs against the environmental benefits, we can determine if reducing plastic waste through legislation is truly the best solution. In the end, this study provides historical evidence through cases such as China and Ireland that bans or fees on single-use plastics lead to enormous reductions in their use and production.