Customers are sometimes faced with the “plastic or paper” dilemma when it comes to their bag choice following a shopping trip. Many grocery and discount stores, for example, are providing their customers mostly with plastic bags though some retailers have 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?
Paper bags have been the original way to transport products after a shopping trip but have been replaced by plastic bags. Plastic bags are seen as more durable, work better than paper bags, and have a more attractive appearance overall. 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.
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.