This Is Plastics: Plastic Bags and the Environment


Plastic Bags and the Environment

When it comes to having an environmental impact, plastic bag bans and fees can’t hold a candle to reducing, reusing and recycling these materials.


Top 3 Takeaways

Ask strangers on the street which is a better choice—a plastic bag or a reusable cloth bag. Chances are, they’re not picking plastic. But is that the right decision?

Reusable cloth bags are perceived as better for the environment, but that’s not necessarily the case. A cloth bag has to be used for more than seven years before it becomes more environmentally friendly than a plastic bag that’s been reused only three times.

Smoke coming out of a factory pipe with overlay textgraphic stating that plastic bags are 100% recyclable and reused by 90% of consumers

Some states and municipalities have gone so far as to tax or ban plastic bags. These bans and taxes not only unfairly target people who are poor and threaten thousands of manufacturing and recycling jobs in the United States, but also encourage consumers to use cloth or thicker plastic shopping bags. Alternatives can generate more greenhouse gases than typical plastic bags, and, when not properly recycled, they have the potential to introduce even more plastic into landfills.

Graphic of the United States that states more than 90% of the U.S. has access to plastic bag recyclingCute girl sitting at the bottom of a green slide

It’s important for consumers to have choices. But it’s also important for them to be informed about their options. Plastic bags have been the primary choice for consumers and grocers for decades, because they’re still the greenest option available.

Whether you’re choosing plastic bags or other alternatives, the best options are always reducing, reusing and recycling.

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