Tag Archives: Re-use

Reduce, re-use, recycle….

For tips on ‘how’ to reduce, reuse and recycle – coming soon – to Learn From Nature and NAEE UK

Two types of small paper bags

Image via Wikipedia

CHINA IS STRUGGLING UNDER A SEA OF THEM AND IS TRYING TO BAN THEM…  http://twitter.com/LearnFromNature

From Topshop to Nike to Primark, brown paper bags are back in abundance on the high street. But are they any better for the environment than plastic bags? The Guardian reports

When we are spending more money than we should in tough economic times at least we are being served the perfect item in which to hide our guilty purchases: the discreet paper bag.

The war against plastic bags seems to have been won on the United Kingdom high street this Christmas. Everyone from classy French label APC to the likes of Nike (complete with swoosh), Topshop and even Primark hand out brown paper bags. An armful of paper bags feels so much less trashy than a swaddling of plastic; they recall the classic brown paper groceries bag of old.

So victory for paper bags – they are the children of trees! – in the war against decadent, dolphin-smothering plastic. Except, like most wars, it is far from clear if it has left the world a better place. Wrap, the government-funded company set up to reduce waste, summarises the drawbacks of paper bags: while from a renewable source and biodegradable, compostable and recyclable, they require far more energy to make and transport than plastic, have less re-use potential and produce methane if dumped in landfill.

“Faced with the question of paper or plastic, the answer should always be neither,” says Reuseit.comAccording to a 2007 study (funded by US plastic bag manufacturers), it takes almost four times as much energy to manufacture a paper bag as a plastic bag. Paper-bag manufacture uses 20 times as much water as plastic and paper requires more energy to be recycled.

Cloth bags are far from perfect. An Environment Agency report this yearfound that a resusable cloth bag would have to be taken out 131 times to reduce its environmental impact to that of a single-use plastic bag. And despite all our fretting, plastic bag use has actually risen. Rather than pitching paper against plastic, we really need to change our habits. Apart from banning ourselves from buying more than we can carry loose in our arms, the obvious solution is a tax on all bags, an economic nudge that if we can’t shop less we should at least reuse those bags stuffed under the kitchen sink.

Source : http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/shortcuts/2011/dec/20/paper-plastic-bags-which-best

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