Plastic bags have a 1,000-year life cycle, and more than 1 trillion are used each year, according to Suffolk University Law School alumna Jennifer Bonar, who argues for a ban on these bags at Massachusetts retail stores in the online Rappaport Briefing commentary “Battle of the bag: Will Massachusetts be the first to adopt a statewide ban on plastic bags?”

“From production to disposal, plastic bags raise major concerns for the environment and human health,” writes Bonar. “The production of these bags requires large quantities of oil and natural gas and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. … Wind and water currents also carry bags to the ocean, where ultraviolet rays break them down into small pieces. Fish mistake the bits of degraded plastic for plankton and ingest large quantities of them, causing serious internal injuries and moving plastic up the food chain.”

While taxes have significantly reduced plastic bag use elsewhere, Bonar notes that this is a highly unpopular proposal in the United States.

State Rep. Lori Ehrlich introduced the Plastic Bag Reduction Act In 2011.

“Massachusetts could become the first state to enact a ban.” writes Bonar. “The time has come for Massachusetts to lead the nation once again.”

The Rappaport Briefing offers a collection of student commentaries on issues confronting state and local government in Massachusetts, from utilities regulation to English-language learning.

The briefing blog, created by the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Service at Suffolk University Law School, also presents news about Rappaport Center activities.

Bonar graduated from Suffolk University Law School in May 2012 and aims to pursue a career in environmental policy and advocacy.