Are paper or plastic bags better for the environment?

They are lauded for being made from renewable sources, being recyclable and or  compostable. They are old fashioned and very familiar, paper bags.

Paper bags are thought of as the environmentally better option when compared to single use plastic bags. Makes sense doesn’t it? There’s no (or minimal) oil used in a paper bags manufacture that causes pollution and is a renewable resource. Unlike plastics. Also, paper bags break down easily, so don’t litter our waterways and oceans forever.

The following might be very surprising to you then...


Research says:

Recent research and studies into the impacts of plastic and paper bags on the environment show some very interesting results. They suggest that it may be a misconception that paper bags are more environmentally friendly than plastic.


The impact of paper.

It has to do with the production process. Paper bags are far more resource heavy in their production than plastic bags. They use an estimated 4 times more water and produce over 3 times more greenhouse gasses.

Paper bags are also made of wood pulp, which is often from virgin resource (or first use resource) and is the result of forest clearing.


The manufacture of plastic.

Plastic bags are made from polyethylene, a by-product of natural gas refinement. This by-product would otherwise be discarded through being burned off. This burning off contributes to greenhouse gasses and causes pollution. It then could be argued that the manufacturing of plastic bags is actually helping to reduce the pollution from this from entering our atmosphere.



While that’s a bit of a stretch to paint this in too much of a positive light, it is a far better option at this point than paper bag manufacture.


End of useful life differences.

The differences between paper and plastic bag impacts on the environment that support the use of paper come at the end of the bags’ useful life. When the bags are discarded, paper will readily and easily decompose into organic matter and disappear without causing harm. Plastic does not. They often biodegrade into micro plastics or end up in our oceans and waterways. This causes pollution and is often harming or killing our wildlife.


The moral of the story.

The moral is, that to reduce your environmental footprint, steer clear of both paper and plastic in favour of natural fibre bags such as jute, cotton, canvas, calico, etc.

Aussie Bread Bags offer some great fabric bags to transport and store your bread, produce and groceries. In reality, though, the bags are so sturdy and versatile that they really can be used for transporting anything you need them to! They are sustainably produced and have a minimal impact on the environment.

Never need plastic bags again by visiting to buy your selectiong today.