The single-use plastic bag is at the frontline of environmental discussion at the moment. After the implementation of a 5p bag charge in England last week, it has become even more of a hot topic. Many are outraged at the change, but thankfully many are also embracing it.

The suggestion of retailers offering paper bags instead of plastic has been a popular alternative in conversations, so we decided to look into whether a change to paper bags was in fact better or worse.


– Paper comes from trees. You forgot that didn’t you? So the more we use paper, the more forests get cut down. In trying to save our oceans from plastic bags, we use paper, but aren’t we now just destroying a land ecosystem instead?

– Paper production emits 70% more air pollution, produces 80% more solid waste, uses 3 times as much water and also results in 50 times the amount of water pollutants than plastic bag production. Not ideal.

– Paper bag production consumes fuel, specifically 4 times as much as plastic bag production. With fuel resources diminishing quickly, a switch to paper doesn’t seem like a very practical option.

– It takes 91% more energy to recycle a pound of paper than it does a pound of plastic, often requiring more fuel to recycle a bag than it would take to make a new one.

– A study at landfill sites showed that paper doesn’t recycle much faster than plastic.

All in all, paper bag production doesn’t score much higher than that of plastic bag production. Aside from the fact that paper bags cost considerably more to manufacture than plastic bags, it seems that switching from plastic to paper is also just redirecting the environmental issues to other areas.

In terms of ecological sustainability, it seems like a better option would be to take reusable bags with you when shopping and avoid disposable bags altogether. It seems pretty simple.

What do you think?

– Do You Really Need That Drastic Bag


Information sourced from: