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Essay : Paper and Plastic bags Comparison Assignment Help

Students need to choose two subjects that have equally compelling similarities and differences. It should be subjects that the student has personal knowledge of. Students must have a balance of similarities and differences (meaning roughly half of your paper should be on similarities and half on differences - do not use the same points as a similarity and a difference).

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Nowadays people are becoming aware of their lifestyle and habits which are not environmental friendly. One such important aspect of our lifestyle is the usage of plastic bags. People use plastic bags for years together and for different purposes like shopping, throwing garbage, and storing household things (Wagner, Travis, 10). However, as a part of the environmental protection initiative, plastic bags have been banned in most of the places. Recently, these plastic bags are replaced by paper bags considering the environmental aspect. In this context, the present report conducts an extensive compare and contrast analysis between plastic and paper bags to figure out the most viable option. For this purpose, the report analyses plastic and paper bag in terms of energy consumption, biodegradability, cost-effectiveness, and reusability

Energy consumption

According to Wagner et al, it consumes approximately four times higher energy for manufacturing paper bags as compared to plastic bags (10). Unlike the plastic bags which are produced from the waste products of oil refining, the production of paper bags requires cutting down of trees. The manufacturing process of the paper bag also includes a higher content of toxic chemicals used for the production of a single-use plastic bag (Nielsen, Tobias Dan, et al, 435). In addition to this, the weight of the plastic bags is higher than plastic bags, which will eventually cost more for transportation and thereby adding extra carbon footprints. Research suggests that plastic bags can be used more times than paper bags, which signifies that the production of the paper bag we need to the destruction of the forest. However, if paper bag producing companies plant an equal or higher number of trees that are sourced from the forest than it can replace the loss and offset climatic change (Xanthos, Dirk, et al Walker, 21).


Plastic bags are not biodegradable in nature and they will exist even after several centuries without any kind of decomposition. Even the high-density polyethylene will take approximately 20 years for full degradation (Rivers, Nicholas, et al, 161). However, if the plastics are buried in landfill it will take nearly a thousand years to degrade. Plastic bags unavailable in every part of the globe clogged sewer, drainpipes and even pose a threat to marine animals. It has been estimated by recent research that plastic bags at the second most ocean refuse which floats on the water surface and will likely never degrade. On the contrary, paper bags are more degradable and compostable than plastic. The proper breakdown of paper bags required a sufficient quantity of sunlight, water, and oxygen (Martinho, Graça, Natacha Balaia, et al, 8). According to the report by Rivers et al, paper bags buried in landfills cannot completely degrade as they are buried so deep, where sufficient sunlight, water, and oxygen cannot reach (161).


Plastic bags are less costly than paper bags with respect to production expense and ecological footprint. Therefore, cost-wise paper bags are expensive for retail stores and customers (Xanthos, Dirk, et al Walker, 21). This is because plastic bags are produced from the by-products of crude oil distillation and natural gas like ethane, on the contrary, paper bags request the costly metal which involves the costly method that involves cutting and processing of trees (Martinho, Graça, Natacha Balaia, et al, 8). It will cost approximately $230 and $35 for the production of 1000 grocery size paper bags and plastic bags respectively (Kasidoni, Maria, Konstantinos Moustakas, et al, 421). In addition to this, the shipping cost for the same numbers of paper bags and plastic bags will cost nearly $28 and $3 respectively. Due to heavier weight, the shipping cost of paper bags is higher than plastic bags. Similarly, according to the report by the New York Times, it has been identified that it cost approximately $0.01 for the production of a plastic grocery bag, why it costs approximately 5 times for manufacturing a paper bag (Kasidoni, Maria, Konstantinos Moustakas, et al, 421).


The key to reducing environmental pollution through either type of bag usage is to reuse it. The bags made from plastic are reusable for many times than the paper bags. In this case, paper bags fail to reuse as they are not waterproof and easily tear. The conventional plastic bags are found to be reusable in terms of carrying goods during travel, kitchen catcher for garbage, and storing liquid products. Based on the report of the Ontario Ministry of Environmental that audited the 50 percent bag reduction Program and it revealed that plastic bags are 40.3% more reusable than the paper bags (Ari, Erkan, and Veysel Yilmaz, 1221). Moreover, Kasidoni et al state that lack of responsibility of paper bags contributes 3 times higher global warming in the manufacturing process as compared to conventional plastic shopping bags (421).


In summary, the present report compares and contrasts the use of paper bags and plastic bags in terms of energy consumption, biodegradability, cost-effectiveness, and reusability. On the basis of energy consumption, cost, and reusability, plastic bags are found to be more efficient than paper bags. On the other hand, it is also important that paper bags are easily biodegradable than plastic bags. These differences should be taken into consideration by the government and retail companies while manufacturing bags. Thus, the government should consider these differences and strive to design an alternate approach that is environmentally friendly as well as cost-effective.

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