Plastic bags refer to a bag which is made of a thin plastic material. Some also define plastic bags as bags which are made of a flimsy and flexible plastic material. Plastic bags are also referred to as pouches, poly bags, etc.
A plastic bag is basically a kind of packaging used essentially for containing and transporting goods of all kinds. These plastic bags are mostly heat sealed together. Plastic bags can be made from various kinds of material like Polyethylene, laminates, and co-extrusions. These plastic bags come in various design options with varying degree of strength.
The modern light-weight shopping plastic bags were invented by a Swedish engineer named Sten Gustaf Thulin in the early sixties. The use of plastic bags gained popularity since the mid-eighties. Though highly useful, plastic bags have been blamed to be one of the biggest contributors towards environmental pollution.
In this article, we will take a look at both the advantages and disadvantages of using plastic bags.
Advantages of Plastic bags:
- Plastic bags are cheaper than their paper alternatives.
- They are hugely favored by retailers and customers alike.
- Plastic bags are very easy to use.
- They are more durable than paper bags.
- Plastic bags can be reused and even rinsed for fresh use, unlike their paper counterparts.
- Most plastic bags are biodegradable.
- Used extensively in supermarkets for groceries.
- They are foldable and can be carried in a purse or pocket.
- Require less energy to make.
- Quicker to open, pack, and double up than paper bags.
- Lighter to carry than any other alternative.
- Plastic bags actually generate up to eighty percent less solid waste than paper.
- Stronger than its paper counterpart.
- Preserve products for a longer period.
- They can be used by all industries irrespective of their scale.
Disadvantages of Plastic bags:
- Affects marine life adversely
- They are made of crude oil and natural gas which are non-renewable sources of energy.
- Since only a small percent of plastic bags are recycled, many of them end up entering the waste stream.
- Heavy items often tend to break the handle of plastic bags making them unusable.
- Plastic bags are known to be a hazard for various animal species.
- Major pollution source.
- When burnt, plastic bags release toxic fumes into the air.
- Some plastic bags are made of additives which is another environmental hazard.
- Recycling of plastic bags involves huge wastage of water.
- Dumping plastic bags is also an issue as it causes soil pollution.
- Recycling them is not easy.
- Creates unnecessary clutter at home as well as in the workplace.
- Wastage of petroleum.
- One of the biggest threats to wildlife.
According to some reports, roughly 5 trillion plastic bags are used every year. That’s a lot of plastic indeed! Prudence lies in using them sparingly and replacing them gradually with their paper and cloth counterparts.