Life-cycle Assessments show that plastic is the best material for protecting our food from contamination, and for preventing food waste and disease. Life Cycle Assessment of Oxo-biodegradable, Compostable and Conventional Bags
For an environmentally-responsible company there is no alternative to upgrading its plastic with d2w technology tested according to British Standard 8472 or American Standard D6954, so that it will not lie or float around for decades if it gets into the open environment, and will not leave microplastics or any form of toxicity.
COMPOSTABLE plastic is not actually compostable or renewable, and composters do not want it. See Composters reject it
CONVENTIONAL plastic creates microplastics, and can persist in the environment for 100 years.
PAPER – Isn’t it better to use paper bags instead of plastic bags?
No. A statement from Exeter City Council in January 2020 said Paper “is often touted as the solution to all our plastic woes, but it just isn’t. This is just another example of making a problem worse by trying to make it better…or trying to look like you’re trying to make it better. Paper production and transportation is incredibly fuel- and energy- and water-intensive – much more so than thin plastic. It tends to result in the deforestation of old wood that is often replaced by a non-native monoculture, severely inhibiting the biodiversity essential for life on earth.”
Planting trees is a really good thing; but cutting down forests is a different matter. We need more trees, not more new ones and fewer old ones. Why do they use old wood? Because it has nice long fibres. Think about all the fuel used in cutting down trees and hauling them. All the water and energy and chemicals used in pulping, bleaching, drying, cutting, and transporting.
The embedded carbon and environmental damage in a paper bag is significant. So paper is not a solution to plastic. It may rot quicker in nature, but the harm it does before it gets there can be considerably higher than that caused by plastic.
The Life-cycle Assessment by Intertek, published by the UK Government in February 2011 Life Cycle Assessment of Oxo-biodegradable, Compostable and Conventional Bags found that “The paper bag has to be used four or more times to reduce its global warming potential to below that of the conventional HDPE plastic bag, but was significantly worse than the conventional HDPE bag for human toxicity and terrestrial ecotoxicity due to the effect of paper production. However, it is unlikely the paper bag can be regularly reused the required number of times due to its low durability.
- The process of making paper bags causes 70% more atmospheric pollution than plastic bags.
- Paper bags use 300% more energy to produce, and the process uses huge amounts of water and creates very unpleasant organic waste. When they degrade they emit methane and carbon dioxide.
- If you compare the use of resources in manufacturing paper compared with plastic, in water usage alone, the cost is much higher given that fresh water is a resource that is in short supply in many regions of the world.
- A stack of 1,000 new plastic carrier bags would be around 2 inches high, but a stack of 1,000 new paper grocery bags could be around 2 feet high. For every seven trucks to deliver paper bags, only one truck is needed for the same amount of plastic bags, creating much less transport pollution and road congestion. 2,000 plastic retail bags weigh 30 pounds, while 2,000 paper grocery bags weigh 280 pounds. Additionally it takes 91% less energy to recycle a pound of plastic than it takes to recycle a pound of paper. Plastic bags generate 80% less waste than paper bags.
- Also, because paper bags are not as strong as plastic, people may use two or three bags inside each other. Paper bags cannot normally be re-used, and will disintegrate if wet.
RECYCLING is not an alternative, because whether we like it or not, a significant amount of plastic packaging will escape into the open environment, from which it cannot realistically be collected. If it did not escape, we would not be seeing the massive public concern about plastic which we see in the media every day.
Michael Stephen is a lawyer and was a member of the United Kingdom Parliament, where he served on the Environment Select Committee. When he left Parliament Symphony Environmental Technologies Plc. attracted his attention because of his interest in the environment. He is now Deputy Chairman of Symphony, which is listed on the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange, and is the founder and Chairman of the Oxo-biodegradable Plastics Association.
Earlier Postings in this Column
All articles of Michael Stephen can be found here
- 1/ 1/ 20 – Plastiphobia, Microplastics and A Throw-Away Society
- 7/ 1/ 20 – Recycling, Lab Testing, Bangladesh and the Right Bioplastic
- 14/1/20 – Plastiphobia and Bioplastics Definitions
- 21/1/20 – Composting, the European Union and Unemployment
- 30/1/20 – Plastiphobia, Malaysia and a Case Against Compostables and Paper
- 7/02/20 – Coronavirus, MPs Letter, Montreal, Australia and the Dominican Republic
- 14/02/20 – Oman, MacArthur Foundation, Stifling Innovation, South Africa and Compostable Plastics
- 24/02/20 – Serbia, India, Pakistan and European Bioplastics
- 03/03/20 – Plastic To Protect Health and Common Sense on Plastic
- 10/03/20 – Plastiphobia, Singapore, Compostable Plastics, Doorknobs and Carbios
- 17/03/20 – Greening our Way to Infection, Defra Warns Against Bioplastics and Montreal
- 24/03/20 – Ditch the Plastic Bag Ban and Inn-Probio
- 01/04/20 – The Come Back of Plastic Bags, Compostable Plastic Not Wanted and EASAC
- 16/04/20 – Coronavirus and Agricultural Plastics
- 11/05/20 – Coronavirus, Peru, Barbados and Recycling
- 18/05/20 – Say No to Plastiphobia, False Descriptions and the Recycling Myth
- 02/06/20 – Definitions and More Setbacks for Plastiphobia
- 11/06/20 – BBIA, Food Waste and Testing of OXO-Biodegradable Plastic
- 19/06/20 – Oxo Biodegradation, Independent Reports and Precautionary Principle
- 29/06/20 – Banana Republic, Why Turn Plastic into CO2 and Plastic Waste from Ships
- 13/07/20 – Running Scared, The Daily Telegraph and Market Report
- 20/07/202 – Tipa, Plastics Today and The American Genius
- 27/07/20 – Coronavirus, Plastic Litter, Bahrain and Polymateria
- 17/08/20 – Plastics Europe, Confusing Issues and Paper
- 25/08/20 – Professor Emo Chiellini, Plastics Today, Greenwashing and Coronavirus
- 28/09/20 – Kill the Virus, Marine Degradation, Airports, Brazil Retail, Plastic Growth and Face Mask
- 08/10/20 – Compostable vs Biodegradable, Covid 19 and New British Bioplastic Standard
- 27/10/20 – Power of Lobbying, Paper and Cotton Worse than Plastic
- 02/11/20 – Covid 19 and Five Myths About Plastic
- 09/11/20 – Support for OXO BIO, Westminster Forum, Euractiv and Covid
- 23/11/20 – Toxicity of Bio-based and Biodegradable Plastics, and Covid Scaremongering
- 15/12/20 – Recycling and An Article from Austria
- 21/12/20 – EU Scientific Advisers, China Chose Wrong Bioplastics and Covid Nonsense
- 05/01/20 – EU, Covid Lockdowns, WRAP, British Standards Institution and Polymateria
- 12/01/21 – Intertek and Composting
- 19/01/21 – Recycling and Exporting Plastic Waste
- 22/02/21 – Seaweed Plastic, Orange Peel and Xampla
- 02/03/31 – OXO Biodegradable Plastic
- 08/03/21 – EU Scientific Reports and Paper vs Plastic
- 15/03/21 – India, Australia and Dow Chemicals
- 14/04/21 – Oxomar, UK Government and Microplastics
- 26/04/21 – Plastic to the Rescue of Covid and More News from Brazil
- 04/05/21 – Packaging Digest
- 07/06/21 – Minderoo Report and Korea Herald
- 30/06/21 – Recycling, Is the Use of Biobased Plastics Increasing, Confused Australians and Biodegradable Future
- 12/07/21 – EU Flawed Directive, Thailand and Pakistan
- 21/07/21 – Directors Talk, Confusion, Stir Magazine and Dumping Plastic Waste
- 02/08/21 – Angry Farmers, DEFRA and Substitutes for Plastic
- 06/09/21 – Microplastics
- 13/09/21 – UK Government, Defra and David Newman
- 20/09/21 – Michael Stephen Video Interview on Antimicrobial and Biodegradable Packaging
- 05/10/21 – Freedom of Information and Plastic Waste Solutions
- 14/10/21 – Michael Stephen at Pack4Change Summit
- 22/10/21 – Plastic from Algae and Carbon Dioxide
- 15/11/21 – Defra
- 22/11/21 – Defra, India, Food Service Footprint Magazine and Waste 360
- 30/11/21 – RWM Digital Spotlight and Plastiphobia
- 17/12/21 – Disposal in the Right Way and Defra Consultation Responses
- 04/01/22 – Precautionary Principle, Anti Oxo Campaign and Defra
- 11/01/22 – Microplastics
- 17/01/22 – Michael Laurier, A Saucy Problem and Unilever
Interview with Michael Stephen
The opinions expressed here by Michael Stephen and other columnists are their own, not those of Bioplasticsnews.com.