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They will not break down easily and as a result may be harmful to wildlife.
Each year millions of discarded plastic shopping bags end up as plastic waste litter in the environment when improperly disposed of.
The polyethylene used in most plastic shopping bags is either low-density (resin identification code 4) or, more often, high-density (resin identification code 2).
Some modern bags are made of vegetable-based bioplastics, which can decay organically and prevent a build-up of toxic plastic bags in landfills and the natural environment.
Kroger, a Cincinnati-based grocery chain, began to replace its paper shopping bags with plastic bags in 1982, Without its plastic bag monopoly, Celloplast's business went into decline, and the company was split up during the 1990s.The company's patent position gave it a virtual monopoly on plastic shopping bag production, and the company set up manufacturing plants across Europe and in the US.However, other companies saw the attraction of the bag, too, and the US petrochemicals group Mobil overturned Celloplast's US patent in 1977.As plastic bags increasingly replaced paper bags, and as other plastic materials and products replaced glass, metal, stone, timber and other materials, a packaging materials war erupted, with plastic shopping bags at the center of highly publicized disputes.In 1992, Sonoco Products Company of Hartsville, SC patented the "self-opening polyethylene bag stack". Although few peer-reviewed studies or government surveys have provided estimates for global plastic bag use, environmental activists estimate that between 500 billion and 1 trillion plastic bags are used each year worldwide.