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Why are paper bags worse for the planet than plastic?

Eco-packaging: Why paper bags are BAD for the planet


In order to act (or appear) more ecologically conscious, businesses and consumers are turning to paper bags as their newest eco-packaging option. What is there to dislike? Paper bags are natural, recyclable, and biodegradable. It's simple to think that paper bags are a sustainable and environmentally friendly option for packaging when compared to their shocking plastic cousins. But there are many factors to take into account when it comes to eco-packaging like paper bags, just like with most environmental issues.

Here are some reasons why paper bags can be bad for the planet.

Paper bags are made from trees

Obvious, I realise. It is also abundantly clear that we require trees in order to stop catastrophic global warming. Why then did we think that paper bags used for eco-packaging were the ultimate in environmental protection? because they are not made of plastic. Up to 15 billion trees are felled year, while the total number of trees has decreased worldwide by 46% since the dawn of civilisation. The solution does not lie in increasing the demand for paper.

Production of paper is incredibly bloody polluting

A paper bag requires four times more energy to produce than a plastic one. The majority of paper bags are created by pressurised heating of wood chips at high temperatures. This is carried out in a hazardous chemical solution that pollutes the air and water. Paper bags, therefore, produce 50% more water pollution and 70% more air pollution than plastic bags.

Paper bags DO NOT degrade in landfills.

According to research, paper in landfills does not decompose as quickly as plastic. Because modern landfills lack water, light, oxygen, and other critical components required for the composting of natural materials, nothing actually entirely degrades there. Paper bags can produce methane, a greenhouse gas that absorbs more than 20 times the heat of carbon dioxide, just like food waste when they are disposed of in landfills.

Food-tainted paper bags are destined for the dump.

Food or grease-covered paper cannot be recycled with unblemished paper. If it is not discovered before it is sent to the plant, tainted paper might damage an entire batch of recycled paper. Each year, manufacturers reject tonnes of recyclable paper due to the propensity for contamination.

Other recyclable materials may contaminate paper bags.

Your paper bags can come into contact with contaminants in mixed recycling bins or bags, even if you take great care to prevent them from becoming contaminated with food or grease. Because of this, it's crucial that you wash, dry, and put all cans, jars, and food packaging in the mixed recycling bin.

Paper bags were the first disposable bags.

Paper bags used for eco-packaging are not strong, which is why plastic bags have taken their place. Paper bags are destroyed and thrown away the moment they even get a trace of moisture on them or have too many items inside. It's unlikely that this is truly happening because paper bags must be used at least three times before they are considered to be more environmentally friendly than plastic bags.


Paper bags used for eco-packaging maintain the single-use, linear economy that is harming our world.

The main problem with bags is that they are single-use, not whether they are made of paper or plastic. The single-use culture that drives our current linear economy makes it unsustainable. Creating a circular economy, in which we reduce, reuse, and recycle items instead of throwing them away, is a step toward a sustainable future. Paper bags for eco-packaging are a temporary fix for the destructive linear economy. Reusable bags, on the other hand, are a solution.


What alternatives are there?

Take Your personal bag.

So straightforward yet so potent. Say no to ALL single-use bags, even paper eco-packaging bags.


If you need a single-use bag to transport it, don't purchase it.


Rarely do we actually need to buy something in our excessively commercialised lives if we have a reusable bag to store it in. If there won't be any noticeable effects from not purchasing something while you don't have a reusable bag, wait till you do.


Develop a reusable mindset.

Although eco-packaging is a wonderful development, it still doesn't deal with the fundamental problems that led to the world's plastic pollution problem. The issue is with single-use, not plastic. Any bag you intend to use only a few times before disposing of in a landfill is not a sustainable option.


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