The debate about whether people should use plastic or reusable bags is one that is ongoing and doesn’t have a simple answer.
For many people, they are adamant that plastic bags should be banned. They argue that they harm the environment and animals and that they should be taken off the planet at all costs. They push for people to use paper or reusable bags because these are more environmentally friendly. However, these don’t just apply to the bags that are found in stores, the argument can also be applied to poly mailers.
Impact to the Planet
There is evidence that plastic can and has caused damage to the environment. It takes a long time for this material to break down, which means that it clogs up landfills and can also find its way into the ocean and get caught on different types of vegetation. When it does break down, it releases harmful chemicals into the soil and water.
As a business, it can be challenging for you to decide the best way to approach this situation. On one hand, plastic bags are convenient and easy to use. You can even get custom plastic bags that have your logo on them, which means you can be seen by a variety of different people. But you also want to have a good reputation and be seen as being environmentally conscience. It’s possible to lose customers if they believe you are harming the planet.
The alternatives that are proposed is for people to use paper or reusable bags, but these may not be as beneficial as many people might believe. It’s true that a paper or reusable bag probably won’t suffocate an animal if it gets into the environment, but paper bags take up a lot of space. Many of these still find their way into landfills, and they take just as long to break down as a plastic bag does.
In addition, for both of these products, it requires enough land to grow the trees or cotton that will produce these products. Growing cotton crops requires a lot of water, and that can have an impact on what people will be able to consume. To keep pests out of the fields, they are also often sprayed with pesticides. These chemicals can have a major impact on the environment and human health.
Reusable bags are often more difficult to recycle than plastic bags or poly mailers. They may last longer, but at some point, they will tear or break and then have to be thrown away. Again, they will find their way into the landfill, take up space, and take a long time to break down.
As well, reusable bags aren’t exactly sanitary. More often than not, people don’t clean them like they should. This means that if meat or other items happen to leak in the bag, they can contaminate other items placed inside. This can transfer bacteria or other harmful elements from one item to another and impact various people. If people do decide to wash their reusable bags, that could use a whole lot of water to accomplish the task. Even a quick 5 minutes can use up to several gallons of water. Imagine the impact this can have if millions of people do this once a week.
Benefits of Plastic
It may not seem like there are a lot of benefits to plastic bags, and they have had an impact on the planet. However, they can be more beneficial than reusable or paper bags for a variety of different reasons. As mentioned, many of them can be recycled. Even if they aren’t sent to a recycling plant, many people will use them as garbage bags or to pick up after their dogs when on a walk. This is something that reusable or paper bags don’t do well.
Because of the major concerns about plastic and its environmental impacts, many plastic bag manufacturers in the USA are looking for ways to make them safer or to make them break down faster when they find their way into landfills or the environment. There is even a drive to make recycling of custom plastic bags more widespread and easy to access to reduce these issues.
The problem with plastic is widespread. It’s clear that they have made an impact on the planet, but the alternatives have their downsides too. There isn’t an easy answer to the question of whether plastic or reusable bags are better.
For any questions you might have about plastic bags and to find plastic bag manufacturers in the USA who want to do what’s best for the planet, get in touch with PolyPak Packaging. We can help you with your packaging needs and help you find ways to be environmentally friendly with plastic bags.