It takes more than four times as much energy to manufacture a paper bag as it does to manufacture a plastic bag. ENERGY TO PRODUCE BAG ORIGINALLY (BTUs)
Safeway Plastic Bags: 594 BTUs
Safeway Paper Bags: 2511 BTUs
Of course, most paper comes from tree pulp, so the impact of paper bag production on forests is enormous. In 1999, 14 million trees were cut to produce the 10 billion paper grocery bags used by Americans that year alone. Paper bag production delivers a global warming double-whammy forests (major absorbers of greenhouse gases) have to be cut down, and then the subsequent manufacturing of bags produces greenhouse gases. ISSUE 2: POLLUTION
The majority of kraft paper is made by heating wood chips under pressure at high temperatures in a chemical solution. As evidenced by the unmistakable stench commonly associated with paper mills, the use of these toxic chemicals contributes to both air pollution, such as acid rain, and water pollution. Millions of gallons of these chemicals pour into our waterways each year; the toxicity of the chemicals is long-term and settles into the sediments, working its way through the food chain. Further toxicity is generated as both plastic and paper bags degrade. POLLUTANTS PAPER V.S. PLASTIC
Paper sacks generate 70% more air and 50 times more water pollutants than plastic bags. ISSUE 3: RECYCLING
It takes 91% less energy to recycle a pound of plastic than it takes to recycle a pound of paper. But recycling rates of either type of...