Good Things About Plastic Bags

Customers are sometimes faced with the “plastic or paper” dilemma when it comes to their bag choice following a shopping trip and are not aware that there are good things about plastic bags. Although environmental agencies have expressed concern about the production of plastic bags being eco-friendly, many people reuse plastic bags at least once, which lowers their carbon footprint. While many grocery and discount stores are still providing their customers with plastic bags, some retailers have already made the switch to paper bags. Whether one is better for the environment than the other has no simple answer. What are the pros and cons when it comes to paper and plastic for the wholesaler, retail store owner, and grocery stores, in general?

Good Things About Plastic Bags Compared to Paper Bags and Reusable Bags

Paper bags were the original way people used to carry their products after a shopping trip which has since been replaced by plastic bags. Plastic bags are perceived as stronger and more durable. These bags work better than paper bags and have a more attractive appearance. Plastic bags are also more user-friendly than paper bags, which require special handling.

It is important to consider the consequences of moisture which comes into contact with paper bags. These bags will begin to decompose and rapidly lose their quality. In contrast, plastic bags do not face these outcomes as their waterproof composition allows them to remain strong despite their formation. One of the reasons plastic bags are better than paper bags is because they can be used numerous times. These bags are strong enough not to tear under pressure and are difficult to puncture as compared with paper bags.

Though plastic bags often take centuries to decompose and may produce waste, these bags are far from the world’s largest plastic waste problem, making up only 12 percent of the total amount. Paper bags require four times as much energy to produce unlike plastic bags, which are produced from the waste products of oil refining. The manufacturing process of paper bags contains a higher level of toxic chemicals as compared with the single-use plastic bag.

Plastic bags can be recycled and are being manufactured in a process which makes them biodegradable. These bags can biodegrade quickly if they are recycled properly. When recycling old plastic bags, they are converted into new resin to create new plastic bags. Yet, manufacturing new plastic bags doesn’t emit nearly as much greenhouse gases or require the use of many trees as paper bags. When trees are cut down to manufacture paper bags, the equipment also produces harmful fumes.

Paper bags are biodegradable and manufactured from a renewable resource. In the United States, there are over 10 billion paper bags produced per year, which requires 14 million trees to be cut down. Once the trees are felled, the logs are relocated to a mill where they are stored for up to three years until the wood dries out. Once the wood is dry, the bark is stripped, and the wood is chipped into one-inch cubes that are exposed to high heat temperature and pressure. The wood is combined with sulfurous acid and limestone until the pieces turn into pulp. The pulp is rinsed and bleached and pressed into paper, which is cut, printed, packaged, and sent out. Due to the heavy use of harmful toxins, paper is responsible for 50 times more water pollution and 70 percent more air pollution than plastic manufacturing. Paper bag production results in more human contact with toxic chemicals and the environment than plastic bags. As 66 percent of paperboard and paper are recycled, the recycling process uses additional chemicals to remove the ink and convert the paper back into pulp. Recycling paper adds to the environmental impact.

Reusable bags are made from a variety of materials, with the two most common being cotton and non-woven polypropylene (PP), a stronger type of plastic. Even these bags have its environmental concerns. To be eco-friendly, reusable bags depend on how often they are faithfully reused. The average cotton shopping bag would have to be reused 131 times to recompensate its high environmental impact from the manufacturing process. That amount of usage equates to roughly five years. Non-woven PP bags are less costly than cotton to produce and are required to be used only 11 times to break even with plastic production. It is recommended to use a tote bag you already own.

It is up to you to make a difference in decreasing environmental impact and nothing to do with the bag you choose. You should make the choices that are most sustainable to you.

At Toronto Stretch Wrap and Danshar Polybag, we view plastic as the most cost-effective option for our customers. Plastic bags are strong enough to hold many items and can be reused many times. The production process of plastic bags costs less than that of paper bags, as less water and energy are used. To effectively reduce plastic waste, ensure plastic bags are recycled responsibly. These are some of the good things about plastic bags.

Please contact us for quotes

Plastic Bag History and FAQs

2899 Steeles Ave. W.,
Units 9 & 10,
North York, Ontario
M3J 3A1


Fax: 1-855-669-6184

For skid quantities of stretch wrap, resin, or plastic bags only, please call

By appointment.

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