are paper bags better than plastic

There is this trend across the world of throwing out Plastic bags and embracing Paper Bags. If you carry a paper bag with you, you are seen as an environmental friendly person and you become a nature lover. And all environmental enthusiasts back this idea and encourage Paper Bags.

What are the disadvantages that Paper Bags Possess?

To begin with, Papers are not manufactured from a healthy source. They are made from trees. The process of manufacturing paper involves lot of machinery and a huge amount of clean water. 35% of deforestation in past 40 years is for the purpose of manufacturing paper. On one side of the equation, environmentalists’ advice Reforestation and on the other side they encourage Paper. Trees are the main source of absorbing Carbon Dioxide and providing Oxygen apart from other numerous purposes.
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Paper requires nearly four times more energy than Plastic to be produced. Paper Production emits more ‘green house’ gases than plastic production (around 70% more) and causes more water pollution (around 50%).

The most common reasoning done by the paper supporters is based on weight. They say a kilogram of paper is much better than a kilogram of plastic. You need to look at the functionality. Anyone who has used both would know that paper bags weigh more than plastic bags to the tune of at least four times for carrying similar weight. So at the end of the day, if you tend to use Paper Bags, you use more paper than corresponding plastic bags.

When it comes to Biodegradation, Papers are said to be better. Papers are actually better. But only if they are made into a Compost. For that purpose, the paper should be less inked and should be like how it was produced. Most bags we buy has inks printed onto it and it doesn’t become suitable for a fertilizer. Most of papers end up in landfills and it takes a lot of years of biodegrade. Papers ending up in landfills produce more Methane than plastic and hence more ‘green house’ gases.

In terms of Recycling, it is found that Paper consumes 90% more energy than Plastic to be recycled. The paper has to be made into pulp again and it is possible only with less inked paper. Most plastics can be recycled though to a lower quality "technically they are downcylced".

The main disadvantage of plastic bags lies in the fact that they are littered around and lot of wild life end up dying after eating them. Apart from this fact, paper bags don’t have much of an advantage over plastic bags.
So, if you are a person concerned about Environment, it is better to leave Paper Bags. The better solution lies in reusing bags without getting them each time. Also, cloth bags could become a real alternative. It is always important to consider the other end of the spectrum.

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