Plastic Vs Paper Bags – Fictions and Facts

Fiction:  Many believe that paper bags are more environmentally friendly than plastic bags because they are made from a renewable resource, can biodegrade, and are recyclable.

Fact:  Plastic shopping bags outperform paper bags environmentally – on manufacturing, on reuse, and on solid waste volume and generation.

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT BASED ON EQUALIZED
CARRYING CAPACITY OF 1,000 PAPER BAGS 

Plastic bags

Paper bags with 30% recycled content 

 Total energy use in megajoules

 763

 2622

 Fossil fuel use in kilograms

14.9

 23.2

 Municipal solid waste in kilograms

7.0

33.9

 Greenhouse gas emissions in CO2 in equiv. tonnes

0.04

0.08

 Fresh water usage in gallons

58

1004

Studies

  1. 2011 U.K. Government Environment Agency Study
    http://publications.environment-agency.gov.uk/PDF/SCHO0711BUAN-E-E.pdf
  2. Scottish Government Report, 2005
    http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/57346/0016899.pdf
  3. ULS March, 2008
    Revised Analysis of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) Relating to Grocery Bags
  4. ULS June, 2007
    Analysis of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) Data Relating to Grocery Bags
  5. Boustead Associates, North America
    http://savetheplasticbag.com/UploadedFiles/2007%20Boustead%20report.pdf
  6. Ecobilan–Carrefours Study ecol bilan (Évaluation des impacts environnementaux des sacs de caisse, February 2004, #300940BE8):
    French: Ecobilan–Carrefours Study ecol bilan Évaluation des impacts environnementaux des sacs de caisse Carrefour à base d’amidon de maïs. L’ACV a été réalisée par Ecobilan à partir des données recueillies auprès des fournisseurs de sacs. http://www.ademe.fr/sites/default/files/assets/documents/28300_acv_sacs_carrefour_2004.pdfEnglish: Ecobilan-Carrefours Study

 

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