Plastic or paper bag: which one pollutes less?

After the law regulates both plastic bags and sorbets in the country, some companies have chosen to take back the paper bags as a replacement, but is this really beneficial for the environment? Does it help more to use paper than plastic which takes hundreds of years to disappear? They seem easy to answer questions initially, but let’s go deeper into the topic.

For this, we seek to understand:

  • How much energy is used to make the bag during manufacturing?
  • How durable is the bag? How many times can it be reused?
  • How easy is recycling?
  • How fast does it decompose after being thrown in the trash?


Four times more energy

A research document carried out by the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2011 concluded that four times more energy is needed to make a paper bag than a plastic one, and unlike paper bags, plastic bags are made from waste from oil refining, while paper bags are extracted from forests, so you must deforest forests to be able to produce them.

Likewise, the supplies needed to create a paper bag is much larger than the one used to make the same single-use plastic. The paper bag also has a greater weight than plastic, so transporting them produces a greater carbon footprint.

Una persona sostiene bolsas de plástico


An improvement for the environment would be the number of times the paper bags could be reused. Unfortunately, its use should be at least 3 times, one less than the reusable plastic bags, also called green bags.

The British Environment Agency examined in 2006 a range of bags made of different materials to find out how many times they should be reused to help the environment, instead of only using it once. But even if a paper bag requires fewer uses to justify its creation, would this bag withstand this amount of travel? The answer is that paper bags are prone to tearing or tearing, especially if they get wet. In conclusion, it is unlikely that the paper bag can be reused as many times as necessary.

Resultado de imagen para reutilizar bolsas


In the end, according to research, it does not matter what material the bag is used to carry products, but how many times they can be reused and thus reduce the carbon footprint and improve the environment. The use of paper bags despite being the replacement of plastic bags does not mean that it is the best replacement for this since it consumes more energy to create it and uses more chemical materials to produce it. Thus it also has few uses to justify its creation.

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