Oxo-biodegradable Plastics Association - Page 29

      Oxo-biodegradable Plastics Association A not-for-profit organisation

Protecting the environment with oxo-biodegradable plastic

Paper Bags


Q. Isn't it better to use paper bags? 

A. No. “There have been unforeseen consequences in the Irish Experience …[taxing plastic bags] …an increase in the use of paper bags which are actually worse for the environment …” … Ben Bradshaw, UK Environment Minister, 4 August 2006. 

The process of making paper bags causes 70% more atmospheric pollution than plastic bags. Paper bags use 300% more energy to produce, and the process uses huge amounts of water and creates very unpleasant organic waste. 

When they degrade, paper bags emit carbon dioxide, and will emit methane in anaerobic conditions in landfill. A stack of 1,000 new plastic carrier bags would be around 2 inches high, but a stack of 1,000 new paper grocery bags could be around 2 feet high. It would take at least seven times the number of trucks to deliver the same number of bags, creating seven times more transport pollution and road congestion. 

Also, because paper bags are not as strong as plastic, people may use two or three bags inside each other. Paper bags cannot normally be re-used, and will disintegrate if wet.

A Life-cycle Assessment performed by Intertek for the UK Environment Agency showed that paper bags would need to be reused at least 3 times to ensure that they have lower global warming potential than conventional HDPE carrier bags that are not reused.  


Plastic bags ‘greener’ than paper or re-usables (Article Masslive.com - Letters to the Editor) 11 July 2016