I am glad the plastic bag lifestyle has been ditched by many shoppers in Hong Kong. While I think it’s about the use of plastic as packaging rather than just as bags, I still think it has reduced the amount of waste made out of discarded plastic bags. But we can try looking at the other side of the fence and ponder on the benefits of using plastic bags on shopping.
1. Most plastic bags are biodegradable
As you can read on plastic bags once you shop and pay the 50 cent levy, plastic bags are labeled with “biodegradable”. This means that plastic bags dissolve sooner than later when thrown in the waste dump. So when you’re using plastic bag as garbage container dumped into an even bigger garbage container, it’s a little reassuring news to hear.
2. Plastic bags require less energy to make
Paper bags may be much easier to decompose than plastic counterparts, but the environmental impact is that they come from trees. Many would argue that paper bags are made up of recycled paper products, but eventually all of them wouldn’t exist without cutting trees. Plastic bags use 40% less energy to produce and generate 80% less solid waste than paper, according to United States EPA information.
3. Plastic bags are more weather friendly than paper bags
While you can carry plastic bags in the rain, the same can’t be said of paper bags. Not to mention the possibility of doing so for wet market products like fish and other seafood products.
4. Recycling plastic bags is more efficient
While the cost of not reycling plastic bags is relatively more expensive than paper bag, it takes 91% less energy to recycle a pound of plastic than it takes
to recycle a pound of paper, according to United States EPA.
By enumerating these things, I am not advocating the use of plastic bags, just trying to figure out what are the benefits of using them. Overall, I am still happy that the levy was imposed as people in Hong Kong have strange habits when it comes to using and reusing of these bags (market, take away food, newspaper, etc).