Paper manufacturing is a gigantic industry.  While the popular warring of paper vs. plastic bags continues it's probably more enlightening to take a step back and look at the big picture.  How big of a percentage do paper bags hold in the paper industry?  If you rack your brain of all the paper products you can think of I'm sure you'll hit some big ones.  For example, what about paper cups?  Huge businesses like Starbucks use millions of paper cups around the world, all of which are manufactured in a factory using paper.  Below is a link to a website that outlines the impact of paper manufacturing on our environment.  They illustrate the paper-making process and the energy, wood, water, and gas emissions of production.
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Plastic bags were originally introduced as the economic and environmentally superior choice over paper bags, due to their low production costs, smaller ecological footprint, lighter weight, easier storage, and low shipping price. Understandably, people took all of these advantages to heart. This led to plastic bags capturing 80 percent of the grocery bag market in a relatively short amount of time. The disadvantages of plastic bags would not been truly realized until much damage has already been done, and in haste to move away from that mistake, some people have mistakenly moved back to paper bags, believing them to be the superior choice for grocery bags. Unfortunately, paper bags still have their numerous disadvantages, are ultimately are no better than their plastic competitors.
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I always thought the use of paper bags would be more beneficial for the environment until I read this article about the impact of both paper and plastic on environment.
contrary to what most people think there are advantages of using plastic bags instead of paper bags.  Like paper, plastic can be recycled, and recycling process would require less energy for plastic than it is for paper.  Paper recycling requires the use of great amount of water and end result would be polluted water back into the environment.
please read this article which brings up important issues regarding use of paper and plastic.

    About EcoMerge:

    Our commitment in this Portland State University ongoing capstone project is to explore the intersects between economical and ecological systems and inform the reader, four times a year, on different major topical themes. Grocery Bags is the subject of focus on this site.


    March 2011
    February 2011



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