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Paper Bags vs. Plastic Bags – What’s The Verdict?

Paper Bags vs. Plastic Bags – What’s The Verdict?

Eco-friendly is a term that has now evolved into something more than just a trend; it is now the rule and the constant effort to lessen one’s carbon footprint is now a way of life. People have become more educated about the environmental effects of certain materials, such as plastic. This has prompted legislation in several countries to ban plastic bags or to impose regulations on its use which has been said to harm the environment. With the plastic bag bans came the introduction of paper bags as an alternative; however are paper bags really better than plastic bags?

Paper Bags

Paper bags are made from materials sourced from plants. The material is easily degradable which is what makes it environmentally friendly. In terms of bulk production and consumption, paper bags are compostable and are eco-friendly compared to single use plastic bags because plastics are non-degradable and they tend to stick around for years. Unfortunately, because of its easily degradable material, paper bags disintegrate when wet and are therefore harder to reuse. However, there are different types of bags suitable for different kinds of uses.

  • Flat paper bags – Since paper bags are more eco-friendly than single use plastic bags, paper bags tend to cost more. Flat paper bags are the cheapest form of paper bags. They are mostly used in bakeries and for takeaways in cafes. Flat paper bags are used to carry light materials.
  • Foil lined paper bags - Flat paper bags, although safe and most commonly used for food, do not keep the grease away. Foil lined paper bags were made for especially greasy, oily and hot contents such as freshly made kebabs, burritos or barbecue.
  • Brown Kraft Paper Carry Bags – Kraft paper bags are carry- bags that are thicker than the usual paper bag. They have paper handles for convenience and will not easily degrade. These bags are more popularly used as shopping bags and are often seen printed with store brands. These are more reusable since they can carry heavy objects and withstand a little bit of moisture. These bags are wider than flat or foil lined paper bags and are often used for larger meal deliveries or takeaways.
  • SOS Takeaway Paper Bags – These are commonly used as grocery bags. They are made out of brown Kraft recycled paper. These paper bags do not have handles and tend to be thinner than the brown Kraft paper carry bags but are wider and can carry more things. They are even stronger than single use plastic bags. SOS paper bags are better used to carry regular things that are dry.

Plastic Bags

Not all plastic bags are bad. There are single use plastic bags that are discouraged because they do not degrade and are often thrown after every use, however due to the fact they are not easily degradable, plastic bags can be reused that is often better than using different paper bags every day.

  • Plastic Singlet Carry Bags – These are the plastic bags that are most popular, they are made out of high density polyethylene (HDPE). These bags are lightweight, cheap and are highly reusable because they are strong. They are used as grocery bags or even for takeaways because they can carry and store food even if it is hot or greasy. However, in the attempt of reducing plastic use and plastic waste all Australian states and territories except for New South Wales (NSW) have already banned the use of Plastic Singlet Carry Bags and have been replaced by paper bags or other alternatives.
  • Heavy Duty Garbage Bags – These bags are bigger than the singlet carry bags since they are mainly used to store garbage. They are made out of low density polyethylene (LDPE). The material is more flexible than HDPE which allows it to accommodate sharp objects. Plastics are used to store garbage to keep the odour out and for safe disposal because paper bags will never be able to store garbage without decomposing.
  • Vacuum Bags – These are plastic bags specifically used to keep food, like meat cuts, fresh. These bags are thick and are created to comply with ISO 9001-2015 Quality Standards.

Looking for high grade, durable and environmentally-friendly bags for your retail business? Visit AlphaFood for the latest packaging materials that suit your preferences.

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