Facts about Plastic:
- Plastic is made of a waste matter derived from the refining of oil or natural gas products, and is created using substances that would have been otherwise discarded.
- Discarded plastic bags take up less space in landfills: 2,000 plastic bags weigh less than 30 pounds; 2,000 paper bags weigh 280 pounds.
Facts about Paper:
- Americans consume more than 10 billion paper bags each year.
- About 14 million trees are cut down annually for the paper bag production.
- The use of toxic chemicals during paper bag production pollutes the environment, causing acid rain, water pollution, and much more.
- In order to recycle paper, it must be returned to pulp using many chemicals to bleach and disperse the fibers. Although paper bags have a higher recycling rate than plastic, each new paper grocery bag you use is made from mostly virgin pulp for better strength and elasticity. Bags that are recycled are often turned into corrugated cardboard, not new paper bags.
- Paper is degradable, but it cannot completely break down in modern landfills because of the lack of water, light, oxygen, and other necessary elements. About 95% of garbage is buried beneath layers of soil that make it difficult for air and sunlight to reach it.
- More than 60% of paper bags end up in a landfill. The paper grocery bags in landfills that do decompose release methane gas, which contributes significantly to global warming (23 times more than carbon dioxide over a 100 year horizon).
- Paper products constitute the largest single component of municipal solid waste.
- The paper industry is the largest single water consumer of any sector in the national economy.
Paper Vs. Plastic Head to Head:
- It takes more than four times as much energy to manufacture a paper bag as it does a plastic bag:
Plastic: 594 BTUs
Paper: 2,511 BTUs
- It takes 98% less energy to recycle a pound of plastic than it takes to recycle a pound of paper:
Plastic: 17 BTUs
Paper: 1,444 BTUs
- The production of paper bags generates 70% more air pollutants and 50 times more water pollutants than the production of plastic bags. Even paper bags made from 100% recycled fiber use more fossil fuels than plastic bags.