Moreover, when plastic is broken down into its molecular components, it can contaminate the soil and the water table.
Plastic can not be burned either, as it releases hazardous gasses which can cause serious health problems.
The use of plastic bags is already banned in several eco-friendly countries.
For people who want to stop using plastic bags, a green solution is now available.
A group of researchers from the Malaysian Universiti Teknologi Petronas have invented an alternative to plastic that is soluble in water.
The award winning material is called Greenphyllic Water-Soluble Degradable Plastic.
The project, which has been dubbed "Eco-Plast", short for "eco-friendly plastic-like material", has already received a number of awards and accolades, including the Gold Medal at the prestigious Belgian Trade Fair for Technological Innovation.
According to Prof.
Ramiah, who headed the team of researchers, winning the award has increased the project's potential for commercialization.
Eco-Plast is a synthetic polymer made from polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), a colourless, flammable resin which is soluble in water.
The resin is used as a component in emulsifiers and adhesives.
It is also the raw material for the preparation of several other resins.
In addition to being water-soluble, PVA also has other qualities desirable of a plastic.
It has good tensile strength, flexibility and a high aroma and oxygen barrier.
Eco-Plast can be dissolved in water at room temperature.
The water which is used will contain no toxic waste or other harmful or hazardous elements.
The material is well suited to make carrier bags, pack medical pills and a number of other purposes for which plastic is currently used.
Another alternative is cotton bags, woven into an attractive design that is 100% bio-degradable and earth friendly.