EcoMerge

Manufacturing Process

There are several processes and steps to go through in order to make paper.  Grocery bags are most often made by way of Kraft pulping.  This is also known as sulphate, or chemical pulping, and it uses sulphur to get fibre out of trees  Kraft pulping uses less than 50% of the tree; the rest ends up as sludge which is burned, spread on land or land filled. The chemicals can be recycled and re-used in the mill. Though this kind of pulping creates stronger bags, it also causes a great amount of air pollution.
Water Pollution
There are dire consequences to creating bags this way: Water pollution is one of these consequences.  Pulp mills are voracious water users. Their consumption of fresh water can seriously harm habitat near mills, reduce water levels necessary for fish, and alter water temperature, a critical environmental factor for fish. In British Columbia, Canada, 17 kraft mills discharge about 641 billion litres (141 billion gallons) of liquid effluent each year. In addition, Mill waste water continues to wreak havoc on surrounding ecosystems. In laboratory tests, mill effluent causes reproductive impairment in zooplankton, invertebrates (both these are food for fish), and shellfish. Other studies show genetic damage and immune system reactions in fish.
Air Pollution
Another consequence is air pollution. Mills should be, but usually are not, monitored for a range of air emissions, such as particulate matter, carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide, hydrogen sulphide, volatile organic compounds, chlorine, chloroform, and chlorine dioxide. Incomplete data from British Columbia's Environment Ministry indicates that in 1997, mills in this Canadian province emitted 17,000 tons of particulates and 2.7 million tons of carbon dioxide, plus other unreported emissions. Air discharges from pulp mills contain hormone-disrupting and carcinogenic chemicals, such as chlorinated phenols, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and VOCs.
Sludge Production
Yet another consequence of pulping is the production of sludge. Each Canadian mill produces an average 40 oven-dry tons of sludge per day, which is de-watered and then either land filled or burned. Each year, mills in British Columbia create over half a million tons of sludge from secondary treatment plants, power boiler ash, chemical processing, waste fibre, sawmills, and other sources. Because of the different disposal methods, sludge pollutes soil, air, and water. The consequences of creating paper bags are outrageous, creating danger for habitats and polluting the air. We can cut down the environmental effects simply by using paper bags less.
Facts from www.rfu.org