Compared to other carrier bags, plastic is the better choice when it comes to long term impact on the environment.
Vancouver, Canada (April 6, 2011) – A recent study comparing the environmental benefits of carrier bag alternatives has raised some serious questions as to whether the vilification of the common plastic bag is justified. The UK Environmental Agency (EA) is the leading public body protecting and improving the environment in England and Wales. Their most recent report on Life Cycle Assessment of Supermarket Carrier Bags highlights that light-weight, plastic carrier bags are not necessarily the blight on society that they are commonly portrayed to be.
In fact, the in-depth life cycle assessment (LCA) that compares global warming potentials for different types of bags indicates that these light-weight plastic bags compare favorably with many of the alternatives that are touted as being more environmentally responsible. According to the LCA, Paper, starch-based, and cotton alternatives all have higher global warming potential than the conventional plastic bag. The EA found that a cotton shopping bag has to be re-used at least 131 times to have less environmental impact than a standard single-use plastic bag. Paper bags would have to be used at least 3 times to have less environmental impact than the single-use plastic bag. In actuality most cotton bags are used only 51 times and paper bags are discarded immediately, making them worse than single-use plastic bags.
The key to reducing the impact of all types of carrier bags is to reuse them as much as possible. Re-using lightweight carrier bags as bin liners produces greater benefits than recycling bags due to the benefits of avoiding the production of the bin liners they replace. Even with only a single use option The HDPE bag has the lowest environmental impact, in nine out of the 10 impact categories. Furthermore, the report points out that the benefits of recycling and composting are not significant when it comes to carrier bags and that re-using the bags is a much better environmental practice.
While the study falls short in recognizing the benefits of oxo-biodegradable additives in addressing the problem of plastic waste accumulation and persistence in the environment, there is no doubt that the report conclusions are in favor of conventional plastic carrier bags. The study shows that the attacks on the conventional plastic bag by the media, environmentalists and bioplastics lobbyists are unfounded.
EPI Environmental Products Inc., as a producer of oxo-biodegradable additives used to render conventional plastics degradable and biodegradable, welcomes this type of scientific approach to examining environmental benefits. EPI’s Totally Degradable Plastic Additives® are distributed all throughout the world to manufacturers who produce plastic carrier bags, films, packaging, covers, and a wide variety of other applications. Established in 1991 in Canada, EPI Environmental Technologies Inc. (EPI) with its UK subsidiary EPI (Europe) Ltd. (EPI) has become a world leader in making plastics environmentally responsible.