Still totally insignificant. A small plastic product packaging, of the kind everything comes in, has more plastic than 200 bags.
Like TSA "security theater", this is "environmental theater".
A plastic shopping bag weighs about 5 grams. Plastic product packaging does not weigh 1kg, not even close.
Second, the shape does matter. Bags are especially bad because they are large, thin and soft, they're easier to be carried away by wind or water, and easier for animals to get tangled in or mistaken for food.
All the more reason to ban them outright isn't it?
I see 'ban the bag!' as eco-theatre.
No, do not read CO2. That's not what banning plastic bags is about. It's about not having them all over the environment where all kinds of animals, from sea turtles to cows to elephants, eat them or get entangled in them
CO2 production is also not the only impact. How much canvas is floating in the ocean and clogging up rivers?
I spent an hour or so researching the issue a long time ago and I seem to recall another study by a French supermarket chain. You need to reuse your cotton bags a lot -- hundreds of times is right -- for it to become worthwhile. Which is doable, of course.
And of course, the carbon footprint of both plastic bags as well as cotton bags varies wildly depending on the weight etc.
“Nonwoven PP, on the other hand, is less costly than cotton. These bags need to be reused only 11 times to break even with the conventional plastic.”
Of course these are less durable that heavy cotton canvas. I doubt I could use one of these 200 times. I could definitely use a good canvas bag that many times.
Its just a losing gambit. You know how many shopping bags we have around the house? Supposed to save energy, but once you have 4 or 5 of them, you're up to a lifetime supply of plastic bags. And I'm sure we're not the only once.
This 'issue' is eco-theatre, in my view.
It’s not “eco-theater” to want to reduce the ecological cost of bags, though. Not is it “eco-theater” to want to keep millions of plastic bags out of the oceans and rivers, or out of storm drains where they cause clogs, or out of bushes and trees where they are just ugly.
And as I alluded to above, not all bags of the same material are made equal. The original British source has a range of 80-250g for cotton bags. The ones I use weigh in at less than 50g.
No, but can easily weight 40 to 200 grams. And accumulated over your grocery purchases can easily be 1kg or more.
If you instead care about "items" or "visual cleanness of the river that all the plastic gets blown into", it's a very different matter.
As George Carlin used to say, the planet is just fine. It's the people who are f*ed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7W33HRc1A6c
(But sure, subjectively, plastic bags are a lesser concern, because they merely inconvenience us and trigger our empathy when a critter chokes on them, without directly threatening our own survival).
But I'd take it even further because even that is BS theater: industrial production of tons of crap in general should slow down. The packaging is an insignificant part of it. It just makes for nice headlines because dolphins and co get caught in it.
- Plastics really don't mix well. Even trace amount of a different polymer (those numbers in the bottom) will destroy the strength of a batch of plastic (there is research in this though)
- Recycling is expensive and in an economic battle against new stock (carbon tax?).
Cleaving the bonds to make diesel or feedstock is another option to "recycle" polymers (I dunno why it's not done. energy intensive wrt to oil? Dirty?)
Plastics are amazing... but we really should stop using them altogether except for fringe no alternative cases.
P.S. turns out plastics are bio-degradable by some tough organisms. So there's hope.
It's the equivalent of sweeping all those bags under the rug. They're still out there, just permeating into everything instead of being visible.