On 1st of January 2011 Italian government legislation introduced an outright ban on plastic shopping bags, which will have to be replaced by biodegradable alternatives. Italy is the first country in Europe to ban plastic shopping bags. Plastic bags are banned also in Corsica, Eritrea, Kenya, Mumbai, Ruanda, San Francisco, Somalia, South Africa, Tanzania,Taiwan and Uganda.
Several studies have confirmed that an approximate 90% of waste in seawater consists of plastic. While of course only a fraction of this waste consists of plastic bags, some assessments indicate an increasing trend in the presence of plastic bags on European beaches.
500 miles off the coast of California there is a huge mass of floating waste known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch which is the size Texas consisting mostly of plastic. Plastic pollution takes years to fragment into microscopic granules.
Over 150 marine species are known to eat plastic or suffer entanglement. Over one million marine birds and 100.000 marine mammals including turtles and dolphins have been reported to have died of suffocation following plastic ingestion.
An estimated 20% of all man-made waste material in the sea is generated by vessels. Friend of the Sea certification requirements include the compliance with appropriate waste management policies.