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Not convinced by use of blue plastic bags

Plastic problem: A letter writer is not convinced that blue plastic bags used for recycling are more environmentally friendly than paper bags (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

Dear Sir,

I note with dismay that The MarketPlace stores have introduced blue plastic bags to replace the paper bags they have been using for years. This flies in the face of pending regulations to prohibit single-use plastic. Statements on the bag make a number of claims which would be very difficult to verify. I outline these below along with my comments in italics.

• “Stronger than other bags. Thanks to power strip-reinforced bottom and tri-flex film technology.” Not sure how this is proved. Probably stronger than a paper bag but require evidence.

• “Made with minimum of 30 per cent recycled material.” Only about 9 per cent of plastic is recycled, so this is very unlikely.

• “Generates 70 per cent less greenhouse gas emissions than a paper bag.” Paper bags do require more energy and greenhouse gas emissions to produce. But studies now suggest plastic also releases greenhouse gases when exposed to light.

• “Requires 91 per cent less energy to recycle than a paper bag.” Neither paper bags nor plastic bags are recycled in Bermuda. Paper bags biodegrade quickly. No mention if the blue bags are biodegradable or how long that takes. Plastic bags can take many years.

• “Generate 80 per cent less solid waste than a paper bag.” Paper bags biodegrade and do not create toxic chemicals when incinerated.

• “Please return to a participating store for recycling.” This is very unlikely to happen here. There is no recycling arrangement for plastic bags at present. The majority of these bags will be single-use.

• “Power strip makes the bottom ten times stronger and leak-proof. No double-bagging.” Probably stronger than a paper bag but evidence required.

• “Patent pending. www.crownpoly.com. Type 2 plastic HDPE.” This type of plastic is recyclable if there is a facility to recycle. There is not one in Bermuda.

When comparing plastic versus paper, there are a number of factors to consider:

• Raw materials

• Toxic by-products

• Decomposition

• Reusability

• Recyclability

• Carbon footprint

The majority of research indicates that paper is the better environmental choice when taking all these into account. Of course, reusable bags are the best option, and this should be encouraged by a charge for all single-use plastic bags. For Bermuda, these blue plastic bags are a bad move and The MarketPlace should reconsider. The people I have spoken to do not support the change.



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Published January 13, 2023 at 7:58 am (Updated January 18, 2023 at 11:34 am)

Not convinced by use of blue plastic bags

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