Plastic Industry vs. Reuseable Bags

An interesting lawsuit has been announced between The Plastics Industry and Chico bags, a reuseable bag company based in California. In Green America’s announcement of this in Stand Up Against Big Plastic.

An interesting lawsuit has been announced between The Plastics Industry and Chico bags, a reuseable bag company based in California. According to Green America’s article Stand Up Against Big Plastic., the lawsuit is about ChicoBag’s claims that its products are superior to plastic bags with regard to environmental impact. There has been some debate around this topic of what is more environmentally friendly when you take into the account the entire lifecycle and manufacturing process of bags.

According to a academic paper on the plastic bag footprint, Plastic Grocery Bags: An Ecological Footprint, with extraction of the petroleum, the use of toxic chemicals and emissions during the manufacturing process and in particular the disposal and environmental issues around making the plastic bag adds up to some harmful impacts.

On the other side, some research has said that a cloth bag needs to be used 173 times to compare to a plastic bag environmental footprint. This is based on these reusable bags are made in China and use a higher amount of water and fertilizer in their production, along with the transportation footprint.

A report commissioned by the Environmental Agency of the UK was released in March 2011 called Life Cycle Assessment of Supermarket Carrier Bags, came to the conclusion that all multi-use bags- whether plastic, cotton or paper—need to be reused multiple times to reduce the environmental footprint. They also found that the biggest environmental footprint is resource use and manufacturing over the end of life impact.

As many environmentalists note the best case scenario is always to reduce and reuse as much as possible. The less we use disposable bags and the more we reuse the bags we have the better it is for the environment.