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Blog - Paper vs Plastic. The debate...

Paper vs Plastic. The debate...
By Nick - Co-Founder 03/08/2016 16:59 Comments

Here at Innerstand London we’ve been having the debate for shipping our goods to you.

To use plastic bags or paper bags/box?

To answer this question requires us to scratch beneath the surface and look at the whole production cycle taking into consideration the environmental issues as a whole.

We thought we'd start by looking at the journey a paper bag takes from its creation to arriving with us and compare that with the journey a plastic bag takes to arrive with us.

The Environment Agency lifecycle assessment of plastic and paper bags gave much insight into the whole process and evaluated the effects of raw materials, production, transportation, and disposal on the carbon footprint. The results were not quite what we expected. The outcome of their report shows that plastic bags have less of an impact compared to paper bags.

So what are the disadvantages of each?

Paper disadvantages:

  • Causes 70% more pollution and emits 80% more greenhouse gasses than plastic according to certain studies.
  • Higher shipping requirements in transportation since plastic is thinner and lighter than comparable paper bags
  • Also it means chopping down trees that could be absorbing carbon dioxide and the bag making processes uses 20 times more water
  • A paper bag actually consumes 4 times as much energy in producing it than a plastic bag
  • It takes more energy to recycle a pound of paper than it takes to recycle a pound of plastic

Plastic disadvantages:

  • It’s made from non-renewable energy sources.
  • Causes a danger to wildlife who may mistake it as food or getting caught up in some of the plastic that is littered and not properly disposed of
  • Most plastics take a very long time to degrade, up to 500 years and in some cases even longer
  • It can be difficult recycling plastic

Sources; science.howstuffworks, Guardian

 

What's the decision?

It's a compromise.

In reality, neither is good for the environment so the next best solution we’ve found is to use a biodegradable plastic bag for mailing out our deliveries and a recycled paper bag for our events.

These biodegradable plastic bags have high strength as you would expect from an ordinary plastic mailing bag and will degrade along with industrial compost.

It's important to us that this all comes from a company that:

-       Recycles their waste material

-       Minimises waste from improving procedure and quality control

-       Researching new ways to improve

This is by no means the solution to all the worlds problems with plastic bags, however given the current situation is, in our opinion, the best compromise for now.

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