Which Type of Shopping Bag is the Most Sustainable?

Plastic bags are widely reviled as a destructive choice for shopping that should be abandoned in favour of reusable plastic bags and cotton bags. While plastic bags have an undeniable impact on our environment, the reality is that they are far more sustainable than most people think. This is especially true for plastic bags that have been treated with BDP® to accelerate their natural biodegradation. As a team that is committed to true plastic sustainability, the team at Change Plastic for Good knows that it can be difficult to determine which type of shopping bag is the most sustainable due to rampant greenwashing and misleading advertising. That is why we have provided a list of factors to consider when comparing shopping bags. This in turn will help demonstrate why plastic bags are often the most sustainable choice and how they are one of the ways we can make plastic more sustainable now and in the future.

Learn what some of the biggest issues with plastic sustainability are and how to address them.

3 Factors to Consider When Comparing Shopping Bags

To determine which type of shopping bag is the most sustainable, it is crucial to consider the following factors:

1. Production Impact

First and foremost, it is vital to consider the production impact of every type of bag. This refers to the amount of energy used, the resources consumed, and the emissions produced during manufacturing and transportation. A major advantage of plastic bags is that, when compared to other types of shopping bags, they feature the lowest production impact by a wide margin. While plastic bags do use resources like petroleum, they produce far fewer carbon emissions and harmful by-products when compared to reusable bags and paper bags, reducing their environmental footprint.

2. Product Use

Next, it is vital to consider product use. This refers to how the product will be used, the lifespan of the product, and how it will impact the environment during use. While most plastic bags are regarded as single-use, the reality is that most consumers keep a collection of plastic bags and reuse them multiple times for various purposes before disposing of them. While cotton bags and reusable plastic bags can be used many times, they typically need to be used dozens of times to make up for their increased production impact and the extra materials needed to make stronger bags. A good case study of how this method struggles is the ‘Bag for Life’ program in the UK, where stronger reusable bags replaced traditional grocery bags and ended up with the same fate very quickly, going straight to landfill.

3. Post Use/Disposal

Finally, it is important to consider post-use and disposal for each type of shopping bag. Unfortunately, most plastic bags are thrown in the trash as many cities do not accept them as part of their recycling programs. That is why some companies are making the switch to biodegradable plastic bags, allowing for the reduced production impact while minimizing disposal impact. While reusable bags and cotton bags can be used many times, the reality is that most of them are thrown out after suffering minor damage or becoming dirty. This means that they end up in landfills and take centuries to break down, further reducing their sustainability and increasing their environmental impact.

At the end of the day, plastic bags are far more sustainable than people are led to believe through greenwashing. This is especially true for plastic bags that have been treated with BDP® and will very soon be digested into clean energy and compost. Through key partnerships with brands that want to take the leap into a regenerative end of life for plastics, we will Change Plastic for Good and disrupt the way we manage plastic waste!

To learn more about plastic sustainability, BDP® biotechnology or greenwashing, get in touch with the team at Change Plastic for Good. We can be reached through our online contact form and will be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding BDP® or the movement to make plastic truly sustainable.