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Life Cycle Analysis of Paper and Plastic Bags

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Life Cycle Analysis of Paper and Plastic Bags Essay

Paper or Plastic?

You hear this saying almost every time you go to the grocery store. And plastic bags aren’t just at the grocery store, there every where, landfills, the oceans and lakes, hanging on trees around our neighborhoods, and suffocating wildlife. This is because plastic bags are not biodegradable, so where ever people leave them, they will stay, forever, unlike paper bags. Some people argue that the cost of manufacturing a plastic bag is much less than manufacturing a paper bag, but honestly when it comes to saving our environment does a few cents matter. Even more people can argue that plastic bags are much more useful than a paper bag will ever be.

According to PROJECT GREENBAG, 14 million trees were used to make the 10 billion paper grocery bags that were used in the United States in 1999. This has two negative impacts on the environment. The manufacturing process produces greenhouse gases while the effect of reducing the number of trees means that there are less trees to absorb greenhouse gases. In accordance with the study of PROJECT GREENBAG, according to Pullen, K. (2012) she stated that “Paper can be recycled – and recycled paper pulp is used to create many new paper items.

The recycling process uses many chemicals to treat the wood pulp so that it can be reused”. On the other hand, in the study conducted by Bell, K. and Cave, S. (2011) they stated that “it takes more than four times as much energy to manufacture a paper bag. They also added that the usage of toxic chemicals can attribute to both air and water pollution. Also in their study they also indicate that paper bags can generate 70% more air and 50 times more water pollutants than plastic bags. In the study of Mcgrath, J. (2012) she stated that paper bags can generate 80 percent more solid waste compared to plastic bags. On the contrary from the findings of using paper bags, according to the article entitled “The environmental Literacy Council” (2013) they found out that plastic bags are more preferable because plastic bags are lighter in weight and more compact than paper bags. And it also stated that it would take several trucks to transport same number of paper bags as can be transported by a single truck full of plastic bags. However, plastic bags can also cause to our environment, according to various studies, it has been proven that plastic bags can pose a threat to marine life, because, if ingested, the bags can block the stomach and can cause starvation to some marine animals like sea turtles, because they mistakenly eaten a plastic bags that they thought it was a jellyfish.

In a study of Bell, K. and Cave, S. (2011) they indicate that plastic bags can be made thin but still durable to hold full load of heavy shopping. They also added that plastic bag can carry 2,500 times of its own weight and still maintain to be strong to hold when wet.ConclusionWith a lot of thinking and realizations from what I read to some related literature from various studies, I have made a fair and opinionated conclusion of choosing paper bag instead of using plastic bags with all of its downside on how it is made and its safe to say that paper bags is much safer to use. I have formulated the following reason of why I chose paper bag instead of plastic bag, they are recyclable, biodegradable, environment friendly, inexpensive and practical to use. Paper bags are made from wood. Like newspapers, magazines or books, they can be recycled and produced into a new paper. Waste papers are biodegradable so they can easily decay and would not pile up on dump sites. Paper bag does contain harmful chemicals that will deteriorate our environment. It will not affect the land where it will decay. It is inexpensive because we can get one free as they come as a packaging material when we buy clothes on shopping stores.

We can also buy them at very cheap price especially if they are bought wholesale. Owning a paper bag is practical because you will get the value of what you pay for. You can use them on groceries and the good ones can be used as paper gift bags. If they reached a very bad condition, collect them and sell to junk shops.

Using paper bags will be a lot of help to the environment. However, we should not overdo it. It will also take some time to replace the trees that are cut down in order to produce papers.

Despite all of the good reviews I’ve found on the usage of paper bags, I will say that all of these will still depend on us, we can choose what we want to use but let us be considerate and be responsible in using both bags. After using them we can use it again, we can recycle it again both paper and plastic bags. Don’t just throw it away, since its still usable, think of the consequences when we throw it away. But environmentally speaking for me the best thing that we should use would be paper bags, its much safer and cant cause much harm in our nature. We must be responsible with our surroundings and we need to take care of it.

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Life Cycle Analysis of Paper and Plastic Bags. (2019, January 03). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 1, 2023, from
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