Paper bag or plastic bag? This is considered an old age question when it comes to packaging. Well, it seems to be an easy choice but there are a lot of details that must be considered in each material: durability, reusability, its life cycle, and cost.
In this generation of environmental and ecological awakening, the query of whether to use paper or plastic bag should be taken seriously. Yes, it is evident that everyone needs these bags in their daily routine and they have the right to choose which one to use, whether it’s paper or plastic. And as it is a question of environmental impact, it is time to look deeper behind those bags to find out which is a better option.
Where does it come from?
Paper – As most people know, paper comes from trees and its production starts with logging. The logs are then moved to a mill where they are dried. As they dry, the logs are stripped of the bark and are cut into squares. They are stored until they are needed. After that, they are cooked with extreme pressure and heat, digested with a sulphurous acid and limestone for approximately eight hours. The moisture makes the wood into pulp. These pulp are bleached and washed and then cleaned by gallons of water. Coloring is added to the water and then dumped onto bronze wires.
Plastic – Unlike paper, plastic comes from oil. It is a byproduct of oil-refining. Plastic bags are made of Polyethylene which comes from oil refineries. These raw materials can be manipulated into any form, color, shape and size. Anything can then be printed on it. Coal fire power plants are the energy source used in making plastic bags.
Where does it go?
Paper – If paper is thrown away, it can either go to a recycling center or a landfill. If the paper is recycled, it will undergo a long process involving disintegration and renewal. However, if it goes to a landfill, it will eventually decay. In the process of recycling, the paper is returned to its pulp form with the use of different chemicals.
Plastic – Same with the paper, plastic also goes to either a landfill or a recycling center. A plastic makes up about 18% of the waste by volume in the landfill. To recycle plastic, it has to be melted and reformed.
What is its impact?
Paper – The recycling of paper is indeed important in saving the trees and the environment. The problem only lies in the fact that because paper recycling involves a lot of water, it may cause water pollution. But on a brighter note, it helps reduce air pollution by as much as 74%.
Plastic – Plastic requires only minimal energy to produce. It is also incredibly easy to recycle. But it does not decay if placed in the landfill or any other places, resulting to pollution.
So with all these comparisons, which is the best to use? Paper or plastic? Make the right choice.