So how eco-friendly are paper bags?
EnergyPlastic bags consume 71% less energy than paper bags to be produced.
WaterPaper bag production consumes 25 times more water than plastic bag production.
Raw materialsPaper demands cellulose, which means less trees absorbing carbon.
Plastic demands oil, which has a high carbon concentration – which eventually has to go somewhere else.
TransportationPaper bags are heavier and occupy more space.
It takes 7 trucks to transport the same quantity of plastic bags that can be transported by 1 truck.
RecyclingMost recyclers don't take plastic bags because they are a difficult material to handle, as they can easily clog machinery.
Paper bags can be recycled more easily, but their recycling process consumes 91% more energy than plastic bags.
Paper bagsPaper bags will eventually biodegrade if placed in favourable conditions. However, modern landfills are actually designed to not allow any degradation in order to avoid soil and water contamination. Compared to plastic, paper takes more space, demanding larger landfills.
Plastic bagsHowever, even in favourable conditions, plastic does not decompose down to the chemical/atomic level, it only becomes smaller pieces of plastic (micro and nano plastics), which contaminates basically everything and everyone.
Bottom lineBoth types of bags generate pollution in many forms throughout their short life cycles.
The bottom line is simply to not take single-use bags at all.
Own quality, long lasting bags made of sustainable materials and reuse them as many times as possible.