Sunday, April 1, 2012

Plastic bags: it's not all about carbon

I recently read an article which discussed how we could tackle the problem of the 800,000 tonnes of plastic bags thrown away each year in Europe, an average of 191 for every citizen of the European Union.  It highlighted the much smaller carbon footprint of disposable single use plastic carrier bags compared with alternatives.  Part of the article described re-using plastic bags as bin liners rather than using purpose made bin liners and it had a nifty graphic .  To a point, this makes sense but considering that many people use plastic bags for almost all of their domestic purchases, then to use every carrier bag once as a bin liner would require all that was bought to be disposed of in the bin.  I know that there is a lot of waste packaging in groceries but it does generally compact down to a smaller volume than the original (unless you live entirely on tinned produce) therefore assuming that all plastic bags are re-used in this way is stretching things a bit.  To then hypothesise that they could be used three times as bin liners is clearly not relevant.

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