Single-use plastic bags have ‘lower environmental footprint’


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Single-use plastic bags reach ‘lower environmental footprint’

Scientists from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have found that single-use plastic bags have “a lower environmental footprint” compared to single-use paper bags and multi-use cotton bags. 


In the study, the scientists conducted a life cycle analysis of five types of bags to evaluate the environmental impact associated with their production, distribution, transportation, waste collection, treatment and end-of-life disposal.

The study found that reusable plastic bags made from polypropylene non-woven plastic were “the most eco-friendly option”, followed by single-use plastic bags, said NTU in a media release. 

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“Our main message is that reusable plastic bags are the best option, provided that they are re-used many times – over 50 times to be precise,” he added. 

“However, one surprising conclusion is that, in our model, in a single-use case, plastic bags, if treated properly afterwards, are less environmentally detrimental than the other types of bags in this study.”

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The global warming potential of a single-use kraft paper bag was more than 80 times that of reusable plastic bags

Single-use plastic and reusable cotton bags that have been reused 50 times were found to have more than 10 times the global warming potential of reusable plastic bags that were reused 50 times.  


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According to the study, a reusable plastic bag would need to be reused four times to offset the emissions equivalent to that of the creation of one single-use plastic bag. 

Cotton and kraft paper bags have relatively bigger environmental footprints because of their “greater contribution to global warming” and “eco-toxicity potential in their production”, the study showed. 

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