Did you know that a typical plastic bag weighs 4-5 grams and can hold up to 17 pounds—nearly 2,000 times its own weight?
Plastic grocery bags are an extremely resource-efficient disposable bag choice. Plastic grocery bags require 70% less energy to manufacture than paper bags, and produce half the amount of greenhouse gas emissions in the process. » Read the full report from Boustead Consulting & Associates: “Life Cycle Assessment for Three Types of Grocery Bags—Recyclable Plastic; Compostable, Biodegradable Plastic; and Recycled, Recyclable Paper,” 2007.
- For every seven trucks needed to deliver paper bags, only one truck is needed for the same number of plastic bags, helping to save energy and reduce emissions.
- It takes 91% less energy to recycle a pound of plastic than it does to recycle a pound of paper.
In addition to recycling, a recent national survey shows that over 90% of Americans reuse their plastic bags.
- About 65% of Americans reuse their bags for trash disposal. Other common uses include lunch bags and pet pick-up.
- In this regard, the reuse of a plastic shopping bag prevents a second bag from being purchased to fulfill these necessary functions.
Less material means less waste and fewer emissions.
- Plastic bags generate 80% less waste than paper bags.
- Plastic grocery and retail bags make up a tiny fraction (less than 0.5%) of the U.S. municipal solid waste stream.
- Plastic bags generate only 50% of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of composted paper bags.
- The production of plastic bags consumes less than 4% of the water needed to make paper bags.
Plastic grocery bags are fully recyclable and the number of recycling programs is increasing daily.
- Nationwide over 855 million pounds of bags and film were recycled in 2009—up 31 percent from 2005.
- According to EPA’s data, about 13 percent of plastic bags and wraps were recycled in 2009.
- Plastic bags can be made into dozens of useful new products, such as building and construction products, low-maintenance fencing and decking, and new bags.
- In recent years, many grocers and retailers have introduced plastic bag collection programs. Tip: Look for a collection bin, usually located at the front of the store or near checkout areas.