Paper or Paper?

Forward-thinking San Francisco will soon prohibit non-biodegradable plastic bags in large grocery stores and pharmacies. The city’s Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to ban the bags. Most plastic bags are made from polyethylene, which is derived from oil. Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who authored the bill, said San Franciscans use nearly 200 million non-biodegradable plastic bags a year, which translates to 450,000 gallons of oil and 1,400 tons of landfill trash. Americans toss 100 million bags a year! Reuse! Recycle! Use canvas!

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3 Responses to Paper or Paper?

  1. t.a. says:

    Thanks for the link, Gary!

  2. Suasoria says:

    Yay. And, boo. Kicking the plastic habit is a fine idea, but using more paper (which I fear will be the result) isn’t.

    This is a tricky one. From some environmental angles, plastic might actually have the edge over paper. They use less energy to produce and create less industrial pollution.

    Paper bags are heavier and larger than plastic, so they use more gas to transport, thus they create more emissions than plastic (seven times as much).

    Plastic bags also take up less space in landfills. Some say half of all garbage in landfills is paper, and things in landfills don’t biodegrade.

    I don’t endorse plastic bags by any means, but I do find it a big downer that the City of San Francisco lacks appropriate facilities to recycle plastic bags (as does L.A.). Did it not occur to them that might have been a worthwhile idea, or at least an interim step? (For what can and can’t be recycled in SF’s curbside program, see this page: http://www.sfenvironment.com/aboutus/recycling/resident/curbside.htm)

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