Friday, February 12, 2010

Plastic Bags & Sustainability?

A new e-marketing campaign went out to a select Prism Pak customers the other day. It announced that we were going "Green". As in, we're keeping "green" in your pocket. Who couldn't use a little extra "green", right? A 20% discount was offered for our most popular Deposit Bag, TT810MLC. The campaign brought up some questions about how green Plastic Bags are?

Plastic bags get a bad rap for ruining the environment. Legislation has been and, is currently being, written to ban or significantly reduce plastic bag usage. I've compiled some statistics from various sources on the paper vs. plastic debate:

  1. According to the American Chemistry Council, paper bags require 70% more energy to produce than plastic bags.
  2. Plastic bags generate 80% less solid waste than paper bags. (1)
  3. Paper bags generate 70% more air pollutants during their lifecycle than plastic bags. 50% more greenhouse gases during production. (2)
  4. Paper bags create 50% more water pollutants than plastic bags. (3)
  5. The 10 billion paper bags consumed annually in the US represents a significant source of tree consumption.
I am linking to here to several interesting articles at the American Chemistry Council site for further reading on why others feel the ban or plastic will negatively impact the environment:

  1. Statement By the Progressive Bag Affiliates of the American Chemistry Council: Plastic Bag Bans in Counties of Maui and Hawaii Environmentally Irresponsible. SUBJECT: Wailuku, Maui (August 27, 2008) – Today, Shari Jackson, director for the Progressive Bag Affiliates of the American Chemistry Council, issued the following statement in response to the recent approval of laws prohibiting businesses from
  2. Thinking Green? Pick Plastic!
    SUBJECT: The push to ban recyclable plastic bags may actually do more harm than good to the environment.
As far as Prism Pak products are concerned, we pride ourselves on the following:
  1. All Prism Pak bags are recyclable.
  2. In particular, our opaque bags are made from up to 30% recycled plastic material. Either from our own internal processes or recycled plastic resin.
  3. All of our production scrap either gets reground into more plastic film or is shiped to a company that manufactures plastic lumber for park benches or such.
  4. The Polyethylene films we (and all bag companies in North America) use are made from bi-products of natural gas cracking for home heating.
Do plastic bags end up in the oceans, drainages and such because they are plastic? Or do they end up there because of irresponsible folks who don't recycle?

Please think globally and act locally! (and think before you print this)... forwarding and saving saves trees.

Special Thanks to for their stats under (1), (2), (3).