Picture this – You are at the grocery store, done with billing and about to check out when the executive at the counter tells you will need an extra grocery shopping bag and will need to pay extra for the bag. You agree to pay the amount as you find the cost to be negligible compared to cost of grocery and will save trouble carrying the grocery. And you carry home a single use plastic bag.

What happened with you happens with hundreds and thousands of us almost every day. However little do we realize that the negligible extra cost that we pay is not the actual cost we pay for the plastic bag. We pay much more than we ever realize. However of great convenience and use a single use plastic bag may be, it comes at a very heavy price and has resulted in one of the biggest environmental challenges. This approach is having a devastating impact on our oceans, our wildlife, and our health.

Just because the plastic is single use does not mean it is easily disposable. When discarded in landfills or in the environment, plastic can take up to a thousand years to decompose.

A report by United Nations Environment Program estimated that between one to five trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide each year. Five trillion is almost 10 million plastic bags a minute. If tied together, they would go around the world seven times every hour and cover an area twice the size of France.  Moreover our reliance on plastics means we are accumulating waste at a staggering rate. We produce 300 million tons of plastic each year worldwide, half of which is for single-use items. That’s nearly equivalent to the weight of the entire human population.

Consider the fact that in the United Arab Emirates, 11 billion plastic bags are used annually (according to a report presented at the World Government Summit in February 2019), which is the equivalent of 1,182 plastic bags per person per year. According to the report, it is considered a very high rate compared to the global average of 307 bags per person per year, while the rate in European Union countries is about 200 bags per person per year. This number drops to 5 single-use bags per person per year in Denmark.  Though in this context, there is a lack of data on per capita consumption in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and it is an issue the government is trying to address and make the entire Emirate free of single use plastic bags by 2021.

 

Plastics in the environment pose significant hazards to wildlife both on land and in the ocean. High concentrations of plastic materials, particularly plastic bags, have been found blocking the breathing passages and stomachs of hundreds of different species including camels and sheep. Plastic bags in the ocean resemble jellyfish and are often ingested by turtles and dolphins who mistake them for food. There is emerging evidence that the toxic chemicals added during the manufacturing process transfer from the ingested plastic into the animals’ tissues, eventually entering the food chain for humans as well. When plastic breaks down into micro plastic particles, it becomes even more difficult to detect and remove from the open oceans. Not to forget that plastic in landfills ends up emitting harmful greenhouse gases. Therefore, the one of the most effective mitigation strategy is to reduce their input especially of single use plastic bags.

 

Unfortunately it is not often that we think about the environment. And it is less than often we think about the impact our actions have on the environment. It is even rare that we realize our simple actions can have a significant impact on saving the environment. Even something as simple as switching to using paper bags over single use plastic bags benefits not just the environment but businesses too. A simple switch can do a lot of good more in case of single use plastic.

 

Yes a simple switch to paper bags over a single use plastic bags can helps us help in doing our bit in combating the plastic menace and take us a step closer to protecting the environment.

 

And there are many reasons to do so…

 

  1. Paper bags are eco-friendly – Paper bags are becoming much more eco-friendly with use of environment friendly material like coconut husk, sugarcane waste, jute twine, elephant excreta among other environment friendly materials. Add to these paper bags produced from FSC certified paper helping paper bags gain an edge over single use plastic bags. These eco-friendly produced bags are perfect companions in our journey to save the environment.
  2. Easy to recycle – One of the things that work in the favour of paper bags is how easy it is to recycle a paper compared to plastic bags. Moreover only 9% plastic gets recycled. A whopping 91% of all plastic isn’t recycled at all according to an observation by NDRC NDRC further reports that single-use plastics in particular—especially small items like straws, bags, and cutlery—are traditionally hard to recycle because they fall into the crevices of recycling machinery and therefore are often not accepted by recycling centers. So next time you are tempted to pick up a single use plastic bag remember it is going to end up adding to the environmental woes.
  3. Consumes less energy while recycling – They consume less energy in comparison to recycling plastic. No wonder paper is amongst the highest recycled material in the packaging industry. The Energy Information Administration claims a 40% reduction in energy when paper is recycled versus paper made with unrecycled pulp, while the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) claims a 64% reduction.
  4. Decomposable – If you are the one to believe results can come fast then you have every reason to cheer for compared to plastic paper decomposes fast. Where a paper bag takes about a month to decompose, a single plastic bag may take up to 10 years or more to decompose.
  5. Biodegradable – Paper bags are biodegradable. Therefore they decay easily and do not mound on dump sites. Unlike plastics you don’t have to keep on waiting for years and years to degrade.
  6. Paper bags easily disintegrate into simpler forms and thus are harmless to nature, marine, wildlife and cattle. They also help in keeping nature clean.
  7. Compostable – Paper bags are compostable. Thus using compostable paper bags reduces greenhouse gases, returns nutrients back to the earth and improves soil quality, and costs less than sending waste to landfills.
  8. Reusable – Advancements in technology have helped enhance the strength and durability of paper bags. Paper bags can now be reused multiple times. These are now best reusable bags for groceries and shopping, amongst the many things on your list.
  9. Help conserve natural resources – Since paper bags are now made from ecofriendly materials like coconut husk, sugarcane waste, FSC certified paper amongst other things they help conserve natural resources.
  10. Be the one who genuinely cares for nature but also stands up for protecting it. So use, reuse and finally recycle the paper bags you and make an active contribution in protecting the environment. In addition consider (rather opt for) using bags made with FSC Certified paper and recycled paper which help conserve the forests.

Alternatively a better thing would be to always carry a multiple reuse or a reusable shopping bag like a cloth bag or thick reusable plastic bags which can be used multiple times.

Thus a small switch contributes in a big way towards saving and protecting the environment. More importantly it takes us closer to nature and strengthens the resolve to curb the plastic menace. It is the right time to switch to eco-friendly paper bags and persuade others to join too. Say no to single use plastic bags switch to paper bags. Make that switch for better!!

Paper bags have been an integral part of our lives for centuries. From simple wrapping to carrying small quantities of groceries and clothing to sweets and vegetables, paper bags have literally been there.

With a surface ideal for printing and high-quality imaging the humble paper always made its presence felt. And it was almost taken for granted, it will forever be there. Or so we thought. Then along came the plastic bag. With its strength, durability, endurance and ability to shield what’s inside from the external environment, it’s no wonder it soon became a darling of trade and commerce. And plastic began to rule the world.

But plastic’s strength, durability and endurance proved its undoing. More so with single use thin plastic bags. The world started experiencing the life and environmental threatening from non-biodegradable polluting plastic. The fact that the single use thin plastic bags are non-recyclable, difficult to dispose and lead to toxicity accelerated the push for environment friendly options.

Pushed to the side line the humble paper bag had lingered around, happy in its small world. Probably sure that sooner or later the world soon returns to its roots, closer to nature. Closer to serving commerce and trade, the once it used to.

And more importantly, it had evolved from being perceived as a reason for deforestation to the forest and environmentally friendly options. The biodegradable and compostable paper bag now has multiple sources that not only take it closer to nature but also highlight the environmental consciousness of the ones using it.

So welcome to a new world of paper bags which are sourced from

1) FSC Certified Paper: Forest Stewardship Council is an international, non-governmental organization dedicated to promoting responsible management of the world’s forests. FSC helps take care of forests and the people and wildlife who call them home. FSC certified forests are managed to the highest environmental, social and economic standards where Paper companies plant trees and harvest them to produce paper without damaging the environment.

2) Recycled paper: Recycled papers have as much as 80% reused/ recycled paper fibres. Moreover recycled paper is the greener option, it uses less energy, water, and produces lower carbon emissions.

3) Bagasse: Bagasse is a dry and pulpy fibrous residue left behind when sugarcane stalks are crushed. The cellulose content of bagasse makes it viable as a fibrous raw material in the paper industry. Bagasse paper is thus recyclable and environment friendly option.

4) Straw fibres – Making paper out of agricultural residues such as straw waste is a smart way to alleviate pressure on forest ecosystems and provide sustainable business solutions.

5) Coconut husks – Focusing primarily on quality of strength, coconut husk is an effective alternative material in producing paper. Using coconut husk instead of papyrus can save a lot of trees from being cut. This can reduce pollution in the environment and also have a positive impact on the environment.

6) Jute – Jute pulp is almost as good as wood pulp for making paper. Jute possesses all the attributes of quality paper — long, thick-walled, bulky fibres and low cellulose and lignin (a carbohydrate resistant to compression and tension) content. And yes its environment friendly too. JUTE BAGS

7) Elephant excreta – dung is collected, recycled and used for paper manufacturing. The price and quality is similar to standard paper, but with the added benefit of reducing deforestation.

Since they are sourced from easily decomposable material and manufactured using state of the art green technology they take less time to disintegrate and decompose. Thus they provide considerable benefits over plastic. Given below are few of those

1. Biodegradable – It degrades. Unlike plastic, you don’t have to wait for longer period for paper bags to degrade.

2. Recyclable – The word says it all. The recycling of paper is the process by which waste paper is turned into new paper products and reused. It has a number of important benefits: It saves waste paper from occupying homes of people and producing methane as it breaks down. At present Paper is highest recycled raw material in packaging Industry.

3. Reusable – With technology helping add strength and durability, paper bags are reusable.

4. Protect nature – Since paper bags disintegrate and are biodegradable, the bags help in keeping nature clean, reduce the possible threats to marine and wildlife.

5. Paper bags present less of a suffocation risk to young children or animals.

6. Helps cutting down on toxic waste and reduce landfills around the world.

7. They are compostable. Thus using compostable paper bags reduces greenhouse gases, returns nutrients back to the earth and improves soil quality, and costs less than sending waste to landfills.

While these benefits are indicative, there are more benefits which paper bags do for business, commerce and trade.

1. Make your brand stand out – custom-designed bags help your brand stand out and create a unique identity that your customers want to be identified with.

2. Paper bags help promote your brand. With ideal for printing, high-quality images, paper bags present you with the opportunity to create a premium look and finish to your packaging.

3. They are your brand ambassadors. While your customers move around with your custom-designed, high-quality image printed, premium look bag; your bag is doing all the talking for you and your business. Reach more households while your customer heads home.

4. Be known as the one who cares for nature. By using, promoting re-use, recycling of paper bags you are a step closer to being recognized as an environment-friendly business doing your bit for nature.