Question: Isn’t it better to use paper instead of plastic?
Answer: No. “There have been unforeseen consequences in the Irish Experience … 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 causes 70% more atmospheric pollution than plastic, and requires trees to be cut down. Paper bags use 300% more energy to produce, and the process uses huge amounts of water and creates very unpleasant organic waste.
When it degrades, paper emits carbon dioxide, and will emit methane in anaerobic conditions. 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 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 are useless if they get wet.