← Back to Articles

Should we be using poly bags or are they bad for the environment?

Issue #1 - Energy required to manufacture plastic vs. paper

  • It takes more than four times as much energy to manufacture a paper bag as it does to manufacture a plastic bag.
  • The primary reason for this is that it takes only one-eighth as much material to produce a plastic bag.

Issue #2 - Pollution

  • Most kraft paper is made by heating wood chips under pressure at high temperatures in a chemical solution. These toxic chemicals contribute to air pollution, such as acid rain and water pollution.
  • Paper sacks generate 70% more air pollution than plastic bags.
  • Paper sacks generate 50 times more water pollution than plastic bags.

Issue #3 - The Landfill Crisis

  • Plastic film is estimated to account for less than 3% of the volume of municipal landfills compared to 97% of other materials.
  • By weight, plastics account for only 7% of the U.S. landfills compared to 36% for paper.

Issue #4 - Transportation

  • It takes seven trucks to deliver the same quantity of paper bags contained in one truck of plastic bags.

Issue #5 - Recycling, Reuse and Source Reduction

  • It takes 91% less energy to recycle a pound of plastic than it takes to recycle a pound of paper.
  • Secondary use of plastic bags reduces solid waste by reducing the need for new bags.
  • Plastic bags are 90% thinner than their paper alternatives, and the use of these thinner, superior films has significantly reduced the volume and weight of plastics in municipal landfills.

Issue #6 - Degradability

  • Special additives can be blended with polyethylene resin to make them "oxo-degradable," allowing them to degrade over time when exposed to various outdoor elements. They will not leave fragments, methane, or harmful residues after degrading.

Information provide by Elkay Plastics.

Title: Should we be using poly bags or are they bad for the environment?
Description: Six reasons why poly bags are a sound choice for the environment.
Published: 12/17/2014
Last Edited: 1/23/2023
2 users found this article useful. Was this article useful to you?

Information disclaimer:

The information contained in this article is for general information purposes only. The information is provided by United States Plastic Corp. and while we endeavor to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the website or the information, products, services, or related graphics contained on the website for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.

In no event will we be liable for any loss or damage including without limitation, indirect or consequential loss or damage, or any loss or damage whatsoever arising from loss of materials, time or profits arising out of, or in connection with, the use of this information.