Growing environmental awareness has given rise once again to the Plastic versus Paper debate. Businesses are being asked to work hand in hand with environmental bodies yet are on a constant quest to keep prices down for the consumer. On average per household, a plastic bag cost 15c compared to a paper bag which costs 35c.
Everywhere we are being encouraged to resist the use of plastic bags which “poison the environment” and use paper bags instead! This campaign is largely fuelled by the ignorance of federal, state and local governments regarding plastic recycling and the consumers themselves not understanding the recycling process.
Education at all levels will help us “close the loop”, preventing plastic bags escaping in to our environment. Instead, they can be turned into valuable and re-usable resources beneficial to our society.
Here are THE FACTS:
Compared to paper bags, plastic bags:
- Consume 40 per cent less energy than paper in manufacturing
- Generate 80 per cent less land-fill waste
- Produce 70 per cent fewer atmospheric emissions
- Release up to 94 per cent fewer waterborne wastes
(Information above obtained from the US Film & Bag Federation)
Also, in replacing plastic with paper bags, we need to consider that:
- Every tonne of paper costs approximately 13 trees, 2.5 barrels of oil, 4100 kWh of electricity, 4 cubic metres of landfill and 31, 780 litres of water.
- The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that 53,000 square miles of tropical forests (rain forest and other) were destroyed each year during the 1980s. Can you imagine the implications for deforestation if we substitute plastic bags for paper bags???
- If the current rate of deforestation continues, the world’s rain forests will vanish within 100 years-causing unknown effects on global climate and eliminating the majority of plant and animal species on the planet
(Information obtained from earthobservatory.nasa.gov website)
- Plastic is lightweight and of less volume helping to conserve fuel consumption during transportation and reduce fuel emissions occurring in relation to transport
- The smaller volume of plastic bags helps conserve landfill space. Neither paper nor plastic degrade fast enough to extend the useful lives of modern landfills (Dr William Rathje, University of Arizona Garbage project).
The Solution: Re-use and recycle your plastic bags!!!
Click to read our Recycling Tips.