The number of plastic bags worldwide - and how long we use them

Plastic bags are used for an average of only 25 minutes but take up to 500 years to decompose - according to figures revealed for an international day of action.

The numbers from also claim that a million plastic bags are in use around the world every minute.

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Plastic Bag Free Day on July 3 will see scores of organisations and hundreds of people around the world taking action to raise awareness on the environmental impact and hazards of single-use plastic bags, and to promote more sustainable solutions.

Surfrider, which is campaigning for a ban says single use plastic bags are a great danger to our oceans and environment, creating serious consequences for the ecosystem and marine animals as well as humankind.

Graphic by Tim Hopkinson

Last year the organisation says half these bags were sent to landfill.

A spokesman added: "One hundred per cent of this pollution is man-made, so we are therefore 100 per cent responsible for finding a solution."

On average, every European uses 175 single-use plastic bags per year and every 12 months 87 billion single-use plastic bags are used in Europe.

The initiative coincides with Plastic Free July - a global movement urging people to 'be part of the solution to plastic pollution' and challenging people to reduce personal consumption of single-use plastic.

Plastic Free July first began in Australia in 2011. Last year a total of 120 million people took part across 177 countries.

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Rebecca Prince-Ruiz, founder of Plastic Free July challenge, said: "The growing movement of people refusing single-use plastic sends a signal to business and government that expectations are changing.

"Every person has the power to influence their environment and Plastic Free July has been critical in empowering people to connect their purchase choices to the plastic pollution problem – in other words ‘turning off the tap’."

To find out more go to the Plastic Free July or Plastic Bag Free Day websites.

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