Advantages of Plastic Grocery Bags for Retailers
Retailers for have favored plastic shopping bags as long as they have been available-about 50 years. The main advantages of plastic grocery bags are that they are cost-effective, easy to use, and convenient to store.
Plastic bags are available in bulk purchases at a fraction of a cent per piece. In contrast, paper bags typically cost 5 cents or more per piece. Reusable cloth bags, which are gaining in popularity as environmental sustainability becomes a more widespread concern, can cost as much as a few dollars each. In large volume, plastic bags have obvious overhead cost benefits for stores and their profit margins.
In addition, plastic bags are quicker to open, pack, and double up than paper bags. While those few seconds may seem nominal, for busy cashiers, this can help keep lines moving efficiently. Plastic bags also require less space than paper bags, both in storage and at cashier stations, and weigh about one-tenth as much. Reusable bags take up the most space, and while their weight varies, they are all considerably heavier than plastic or paper bags.
Advantages of Plastic Bags for Consumers
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 plastic 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.