Conveniently enough, just as retailers have found plastic bags to be a better option than paper, so too have consumers. The numbers speak for themselves: according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans use 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually, and the American Forest and Paper Association estimates that Americans use 10 billion paper shopping bags each year.
While this preference is gradually changing in light of environmental concerns and the increased use of reusable cloth bags, plastic shopping bags still offer two key benefits:
Plastic bags are more durable than paper bags. They are less prone to tearing, easier to carry, and are far more useful in the rain.
Plastic bags are reusable for a variety of purposes, with many people using them as trashcan liners or to pack and store miscellaneous items. Plastic bags last considerably longer than paper bags and be rinsed out and repurposed, unlike paper bags.
Environmental Impact of Plastic Grocery Bags
There has been much disagreement over whether paper or plastic shopping bags are more detrimental to the environment. The truth is each has advantages and disadvantages when compared to the other.
There are several important ecological advantages of plastic grocery bags over paper shopping bags. Because they weigh so much less, they contribute far less solid waste to landfills when not recycled. According to the EPA, paper bag production requires 40 percent more energy than the production of plastic bags. Paper bag manufacturing also results in 50 percent more water pollution and 70 percent more air pollution than plastic bag manufacturing.
Remember to Recycle
Reuse your plastic bags as much as possible. Recycle the rest.
By recycling, consumers can avoid many of the drawbacks of plastic bags, such as their contribution to litter and their inability to biodegrade when discarded. There are numerous advantages of plastic grocery bags, and by recycling them diligently, consumers can profit from their use in a more environmentally sustainable manner.