Paper or plastic? Plastic.


70 comments posted
Coppicing trees has Social, environment, economic benefits

I am writing a 'thought piece' on this topic for my business degree. Something I have noted from above, which I believe has not been mentioned and is of significant importance is the use of coppicing trees, not deforestation.

Coppicing means that trees are cut down above ground level, not completely removed. (this is very unethical and this method should only be carried out if their is a uncureable infestation) Coppicing means that the tree regenerates and because trees are a 'carbon sink', they absorbs the same amount of C02 whilst they grows, that they release whilst burning, this is known as a renewable source of energy and a carbon neutral fuel.

Their are so many environmental benefits to coppicing, that I believe have not been considered in this debate.

1. its vital to manage forests, ie) removing poor forming tree specimens, to obtain more light for the healthy growth of other trees and of course for the biodiversity of many plant, wildlife and other animal species - an unmanaged forest is a very unattractive eco-system.
2. managing woodlands creates jobs
3. More supply of wood as a heat source, will bring the price down, benefiting society economically as it would reduce reliance on fossil fuels, meaning the price of oil/petrol would also decrease as a result of increased supply and less demand.

My argument is that I can not see how the costs of plastics, such as the environmental impact on marine life and also human health through consumption of plastics been calculated against the extra cost of transportation and production (water) that paper produces..

Also the report from the environment agency suggests that the plastic is being transported a lot further than paper - so how can this be factual?? Another point raised was that a paper bag weighs 55g in contrast to a plastic bag weighing 0.9g, I find it very hard to believe that a paper bag weighs this much..I believe this information could be incorrect.

Could this whole debate be that we are not obtaining factual information?? I do not see how plastic can be better than paper, as it doesn't de-compose...I will keep researching and update this site with evidence.

Posted by Anonymous on Mon, 10/05/2015 - 07:46
Plastic CAN NOT be recycled....period. It NEVER goes away!!

Please watch:

Posted by Anonymous on Thu, 09/10/2015 - 08:42
Jute bag

We can also take Jute bag because it is going to be strong and it will be made of jute so no need to cut trees or use plastic only you need to do is improve the production of jute.

Posted by Anonymous on Wed, 07/08/2015 - 08:28
Whoever thinks this is true is an idiot.

IDIOTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! PLASTIC HURTS THE FREAKING ENVIRONMENT, YOU FREAKING IDIOTS!!! You really think that plastic is better than using paper?!!!! Well you are wrong. And you are lucky I'm not cussing. *deep breath* idiots...

Posted by Anonymous on Thu, 03/12/2015 - 10:03
And your research and statistics for that claim are....

Just because you think something, are afraid of something, or want something to be wrong doesn't make it bad. You shouting about your own opinions means nothing. As Neil Degrasse Tyson once said, "The great thing about science is that it's true whether you believe it or not."

Facts are facts, deal with them and move on. Especially because the article ends saying a reusable bag is probably better than both paper and plastic. Though enough information to determine with high enough accuracy probably wasn't available at the time of writing this

Posted by Anonymous on Sat, 10/10/2015 - 11:33
...included in the web pages.

For every item mentioned I list all the resources used, pollution released, recycling percentages, landfill usage; with links to the papers where that data is taken from. With data about resource scarcity and EPA estimates of how harmful are the substances released to the environment. I am sorry you cannot be bothered to look at it...

ADMITTEDLY, the research and data quoted is somehow limited and perhaps outdated - I had no real time to improve the pages for some time. But still, what is there, should be pretty much sufficient to draw the conclusions.

Please, look at the pages before writing comments, please?

Posted by andrzejc on Mon, 10/26/2015 - 11:13
Plastic CAN NOT be recycled....period.

Posted by Anonymous on Thu, 09/10/2015 - 08:39
Neither is a good choice! Do not chose 'Plastic or Paper Bags!

Hemp, a subspecies of Cannabis sativa L., contains almost no THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol). The average 15ft plant is less than 0.03% THC, while marijuana varieties of Cannabis Sativa L. are 10-15% THC.

You cannot get high from smoking hemp. It is not a drug. It’s a plant. And a very useful one, too. A plant that has the potential to save our entire planet.`

We have got to get Off This Tree Killing, Crazy Plastic Polluted TRAIN we're on! Hemp is our solution! Research it!

9 ways industrial hemp can save the world

Posted by Anonymous on Tue, 03/10/2015 - 13:15
Tree farms

Obviously you have never been to a tree farm. The majority of paper is grown in Arkansas and Lousiana and other states as cash crop.
Paper is more recyclable than plastic. It can be used in more ways and does not require oil to produce. Of course, cotton is the best bet, but hey hard to admit 90% of the green push is paid for and owned by the Oil companies. Try leaving the city sometime and come out to the country, you might be shocked at what you learn.

Posted by Anonymous on Sat, 11/29/2014 - 21:27
Production of paper is one of

Production of paper is one of the most water intensive and pollution producing processes. While it does not use much of oil, it still requires lots of electricity, which uses mostly coal -- at least in Arkansas and Louisiana. Every pound of paper requires turning of 3 gallons of fresh water into industrial waste. However, the biggest problem is its weight. A paper bag weights some 10 times as much as plastic one, and that adds up to a lot of wasted resources. Finally, while paper is more recyclable than plastic, it is already taken into account in the calculation of the impact index.

Posted by andrzejc on Wed, 12/10/2014 - 22:54

This is probably one of the most biased websites I have ever seen. Where are your numbers coming from? How are you calculating the entire impact? What is being evaluated? Is it only the energy going into make the bags? What about the amount of years plastic bags stay on this earth, whereas paper bags can be recycled. You need to do more research.

Posted by Anonymous on Mon, 11/17/2014 - 23:42
You Need to do More Research

There is a significantly higher amount of energy and natural resources needed to dispose of paper bags than plastic. Paper emits 70% more air pollution than plastic. Paper bags are also harder to reuse because of various reasons, such as sogginess, tears, convenience, etc. Paper bags can be easier to recycle, but people tend to use their plastic bags much more than plastic. Both paper and plastic have pros and cons to them, but plastic has less cons than paper. Why do you think many stores still use them today? However, I would recommend reusable bags. They are by far better for the environment, regardless of the material, especially if they are reused at least four times.

Posted by Anonymous on Sun, 04/19/2015 - 18:57
I am sorry you cannot be

I am sorry you cannot be bothered with reading the introductory article, answering in great details pretty much all your questions.

As to the numbers: in most cases I include a link to the research or data site I took it from. Unfortunately, there are some sources that I have used and not cited yet - I am still working on rectifying this situation.

Posted by andrzejc on Wed, 12/10/2014 - 23:00
use reusable shopping bags or trollies

it is better in the long run to use reusable bay trolleys and things like that for the main reason why waste oil in making plastic bags is the first one. first of all oil is a finite resource, yes you can say the formation of oil is happening all the time but the length of the process in human terms it might as well like iron aluminium or gold there is only so much on the planet.
despite that we could use that oil to make other thing that we need as well as the reduction in our dependency on oil making pointless things that most people discard after one use.

and yes paper is biodegradable and you can recycle it but the major problem with recycling paper is the use of sodium hydroxide yes it is used in the production of soap, but the use to bleach paper you need a lot of it and where do you dump it?
this may sound silly to some people but sodium hydroxide in high amounts will affect the growth of plants. from stunting to some plants will not grow so you would have to have what is called sacrificial land. this means that you will put a vast amount of a chemical on to one bit of land making it toxic. this was done a lot in the early 20th century with pesticides and this means that there are now places with high levels of heavy metal and other compounds.
as well as this sodium hydroxide has to be made this means getting the raw materials making the sodium hydroxide and then packaging it taking it to a distribution center then after this it needs to be taken to the recycling plant. as well as this you have the paper been picked up most time sent to a depo then after that another truck takes the paper to the plant where it is recycled. just think of all the CO2 and other greenhouse gases emitted by this process.
if you plant a tree this will lock in carbon and release O2 then that is taken to the plant for pulping in one trip after it has spent 2 or 3 decade of carbon capture.

so in a nutshell it is better to use reusable bags baskets and trolleys as they may cost more to make but in the end you use them more and you see a better benefit for the environment. also if you have to pay for bags then you see a saving that way as well

Posted by Anonymous on Mon, 11/17/2014 - 21:56
Paper. Have you ever heard of

Paper. Have you ever heard of the great pacífico garbage patch. Its full of waste mostos containing plastic particles and garbage shit that chokes the animals. Get your facts right!!

Posted by Anonymous on Sat, 10/04/2014 - 15:18
According to NOAA....

According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA):

"There is no "garbage patch..."

How Big Is the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch"? Science vs. Myth | -

Posted by Anonymous on Fri, 11/28/2014 - 18:26
Check Your Facts

There is currently a floating garbage patch the size of Texas in the Ocean that is filled almost 100% of plastic materials. Paper may need more to recycle but at least it isn't filling our landfills and killing wildlife.

Posted by Anonymous on Wed, 05/27/2015 - 11:57
Correct - there are actually

Correct - there are actually SEVERAL of them.

Posted by Anonymous on Thu, 02/26/2015 - 17:45
But the paper is made from

But the paper is made from the paper pulp made of the wood. And it may cause cutting down of the trees and it clearly affects the nature balance very partially. So we need something to replace the paper and plastic.

Posted by Anonymous on Wed, 06/18/2014 - 08:13


Posted by Anonymous on Wed, 11/12/2014 - 09:08
Recycled Plastic

Clearly, this is still a disputed subject. In my opinion, both plastic bags and paper bags are bad if they aren't recycled and just land in the trash or worse, go into the wild and harm animals. I think that recycled plastic so far is the best - i'm not sure yet about cotton bags. At the moment we have so many plastic bags anyway, we should recycle those plastic bags and turn them into reusable plastic bags that can survive for years, and in this case it would be a good thing. We would minimize using plastic/paper bags at the store, and then that business would start to stop (maybe convert to making the recycled bags). We would save energy, oil, and trees.
If cotton turns out to be good solution after a while, then go with cotton. Couldn't we also just make bags out of old clothes? We could reuse the cotton. I am looking forward towards a hopeful future!!!
With buying groceries, we may not even have to use bags: my grandmother uses boxes/cartons. Now that leads me thinking, what could we do to stop the excess plastic in food products, do companies have to wrap everything in plastic 5 times? Could the polyethylene go into foods that way? Would that be harmful to us? How can we stop that? Is there any way to bring reusable containers into a store and use that instead of bag?

Posted by Anonymous on Sun, 06/01/2014 - 17:11
I had to do this for a lab

I had to do this for a lab and the original is correct paper creates 70% more air pollution, 50% more water pollution, 4 times more energy to make from virgin ore, 91% more energy to recycle paper than plastic, and paper does not biodegrade as fast as plastic does. Plastic is also aspire to produce though the problem with plastic is it creates 4 times more solid waste to produce from virgin ore. Alll things considered paper is much worse than plastic.

Posted by Anonymous on Tue, 04/08/2014 - 20:17
your wrong

based on my research over the past few weeks you are wrong paper has much less of an impact then plastic. And another thing you have no bibliography you have no research done or sites where you got any of your information this is a poorly put together article that is very inaccurate.

Posted by Anonymous on Thu, 02/27/2014 - 12:46

I have been doing debate in school and I just made it to a state debate and this was our topic. Paper or Plastic. I have research here to prove you are wrong! According to the website,, it takes less energy to produce paper than plastic, and it reduces greenhouse gasses in our enviorment. Also according to, in 2012 1580 babies were suffocated by plastic bags and plastic bottle caps. Also, many animas get choked by plastic and die. I agree with you anonymous!

Posted by Anonymous on Mon, 04/14/2014 - 20:19
Did you even read your own source??

Did you when read the article from Let's Talk Plastics??? It clearly views plastics from the energy, green house gasses and water usage perspective. All that remains are overall general claims (although probably valid, certainly not specific to plastic bags) that there an plastic soup in our oceans.

The verdict is clear: plastic is superior to paper, as long as properly disposed of (true for both).

Posted by Anonymous on Sun, 09/07/2014 - 17:07
This is from that website you mentioned.

Posted by Anonymous on Tue, 08/19/2014 - 01:06
Hemp for the future

If anyone is wondering what the grand answer of it all is.. Industrial hemp is best. The only reason its illegal is because now oil can make plastic, trees can make paper, and cotton can create cloth, and the state gets compensation for the big business. Hemp does all of that and it grows a new crop every year, like corn and wheat. Easy, biodegradable, and good for peace of mind. It might even cure cancer...

Posted by Anonymous on Tue, 04/08/2014 - 14:34

Would they have to mix it with lime to make the bags? Like they doe to make bricks?

Posted by Anonymous on Wed, 01/28/2015 - 22:16
I very well may be wrong, but

I very well may be wrong, but unless you post here your research, we will never know.

You are right about the bibliography though. I realized that at some point, and all newer articles have links to the source materials; I am trying to retrofit the rest as well, as far as time permits.

Thank you for your comment!

Posted by andrzejc on Sun, 03/09/2014 - 22:14

Just make people pay separately for bags like they do in Europe.

The single use plastic and paper bags and the multi use cloth bags will all be available and companies can sell them for whatever the costs (economic and environmental) to make them are.

I think you would see more people using multi use cloth bags if that happened, it is what does happen in Europe where this situation is in place already.

Posted by Anonymous on Fri, 01/24/2014 - 14:46
Re: economics

For the producers and sellers or anything, including the plastic bags, the environmental cost is an externality - something that someone else pays, but they reap the benefit. No company in US that produces cheap plastic bag is concerned with the cost of dumping them in the ocean, landfill, or burning in the open file. The economic incentive would work only if the environmental cost is properly calculated, translated into dollars, and imposed on the producers (yes, by the government).

Posted by andrzejc on Fri, 02/07/2014 - 23:36
Paper or Plastic: The winner is Cloth re-usable.

No need to recycle. No need to have more. Sturdier. More insulated. Better.

Posted by Anonymous on Sat, 10/12/2013 - 17:49
Stop the use of single use plastics

Plastics are ruining the planet. Please say no!

Posted by Anonymous on Thu, 07/04/2013 - 16:28
Plastic or paper

How do I know

Posted by Anonymous on Sun, 06/02/2013 - 22:02

I say paper because it is easy to recycle, and it won't fill up our landfills.... and like some people said in these comments, it can be biodegradable which is really good for our environment.

Posted by Anonymous on Tue, 04/30/2013 - 19:22

I say that paper is a lot better than because plastic can choke animals and are bad for the environment.

Posted by Anonymous on Tue, 10/22/2013 - 08:37
You're wrong dude.

Recycling paper often consumes more energy than it does to make a new bag. []

The EPA has found that paper doesn't degrade much faster than plastic does in a landfill

Posted by Anonymous on Sun, 07/21/2013 - 22:45
YEAH! You're wrong, dude!

YOU ARE WRONG, DUDE!!! Plastic hurts the environment more than paper does because paper doesn't hurt it AT ALL. Paper can decompose in months. As when plastic takes billions of years.

Posted by Anonymous on Thu, 03/12/2015 - 10:06
Energy isn't the only thing

Energy isn't the only thing we need to worry about wasting. In recycling bags, you're reusing the paper, making your argument about how fast they degrade a moot point.

Posted by Anonymous on Sat, 10/12/2013 - 13:46
Energy isn't the only thing

Energy isn't the only thing we need to worry about wasting. In recycling bags, you're reusing the paper, making your argument about how fast they degrade a moot point.

Posted by Anonymous on Sat, 10/12/2013 - 13:46

You have probably been asked the question ‘paper or plastic’ but have you ever stopped to wonder which is better for the environment? Paper is the better option because it’s recycled more often then plastic, it’s biodegradable, and it’s a reusable resource. Plastic is recycled less, it does not biodegrade, and it’s made from an unsustainable resource.
Paper bags are recycled more often than plastic. In fact approximately 14% of paper made is later recycled, while less than 5% of plastic is recycled. A second reason to use paper is that it’s biodegradable. Plastic can only biodegrade in certain instances and even then it takes thousands of years. But one of the most reasons paper is the best choice is because it’s made from a reusable resource trees. While plastic is tapping into or petroleum resource (that means paying more at the pump).
There is one bad side to paper it releases more green house gasses then plastic but plastic releases the top five most dangerous green house gasses (not to mention for every 1kl of plastic produced 5kls of carbon monoxide is produced). A good thing about plastic is that one truck of plastic is equal to 7 trucks of paper
Since paper is biodegradable and is friendlier then plastic toward the environment I’m going to chose paper next time I go to the grocery store. So next time you go to the grocery store what will you chose paper or plastic.

Posted by Anonymous on Tue, 06/05/2012 - 16:43

Sorry My Opinion defer from your's:-
Plastic Bags Are 100% recyclable , and its recycled an number of times, than as of paper.
actually plastic carry bags waste is hardly 0.3% of total waste as per municipal records official. Actually we are misguided by government actually waste seen on roadside in bulk is multilayer rapers and bags which not recycleable a single time ,as multilayer industry is large scale industries and influences the government in many ways so to misguide the citizens goverment have made the victim to plastic carry bag industries & usage.Use of paper bags is way of killing down the trees.

Posted by Anonymous on Fri, 05/24/2013 - 02:44
Paper can not replace plastic

Paper cannot replace plastic due to the fact that plastic is used for many things that paper cannot be used as, such as, bottles and cups.

Paper would not hold liquids very well and the liquid would just soak the paper, but for plastic this does not happen.

Also because paper kills trees, but plastic doesn't.

Posted by Anonymous on Sat, 05/04/2013 - 12:54
You've never heard of a paper

You've never heard of a paper cup?

"Paper would not hold liquids very well and the liquid would just soak the paper"

Someone better let Starbucks and McDonalds know.

Posted by Anonymous on Wed, 09/24/2014 - 17:00

The only thing good about paper is that is "biodegradable", that is, when someone throws a piece of paper in the wild, it will be gone in a month or two (as opposed to a 10-20 years for plastic bags, as found on Google). However very little of the paper trash goes into wild, most go into the landfill. Where it stays, contributing to the mountain of trash whether it decomposes or not.

Otherwise paper creates more air pollution, uses more water, produces more liquid waste and contributes more to deforestation than plastic.


Posted by andrzejc on Wed, 06/06/2012 - 13:37

The disposal of bags entails additional environmental impacts. If landfilled, plastic bags are more environmentally benign than paper, as they require less space; paper occupies approximately half of overall landfill volume. Plastics (not just bags) generate 14 to 28 percent of the volume of trash in general, but because much of it can be compressed, only 9 to 12 percent of the volume of waste in landfills. Although plastics do not biodegrade, modern landfills are designed in such a way that nothing biodegrades, because the waste is isolated from air and water in order to prevent groundwater contamination and air pollution. As manufacturers have continued to make their plastic packaging thinner and lighter to save materials, the percentage of landfill volume taken up by plastics has remained steady since 1970 even as plastics have become more widely used.

Posted by Anonymous on Wed, 01/09/2013 - 11:24
Paper is not a substitue of plastic

Hello All,

If anyone think paper is a substitute of plastic then it is a mistake.
Its ecological foot print is more.
Plastic is very harmful for sure.
But paper has more impact.
AND product like paper cup are not biodegradable. It have all the demarits which lies with plastic cup. Other than some more. Like cutting of trees. In US alone in 2009 16 millions trees has been chopped because of paper cup.

The people who think it can be recycled first they should know recycling has its limit. AND hardly 5-10% is recycled. In that way plastic/polythine bags can be also used for manufacturing of roads.
But truth is currently we do not have proper system to enforce its seggrigation and processing.
If a proper system is there harm with plastic can be reduced. But cost of trees because of paper can not be recovered.

Mail me on for details and then we can discuss it properly

Posted by Anonymous on Tue, 10/11/2011 - 04:30
CLOTH BAGS!!!!!!!!!

WHY DOES THIS EVEN REQUIRE A DEBATE!?!?!?!?!? THE ANSWER IS SIMPLE!!! JUST USE REUSABLE CLOTH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Anonymous on Wed, 10/12/2011 - 13:26
Cloth Bags/Paper/Plastic

Well not all people like or have cloth bags. They do not sell them things anymore...we are not old people! lol. And BTW, we are doing a debate at school...cloth is not a choice!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Also, Plastic is better for the enviroment cause it does not kill trees!

Posted by Anonymous on Tue, 03/27/2012 - 09:48
Are you that stupid? Calm down, Anon 3/27/12

I beg to differ, my idiotic friend. I am fourteen, and am highly aware that they do indeed sell cloth bags, you stupid, stupid moron. Perhaps if you'd look away from the toy section, you'd notice they did, and they perform quite the positive impact.
You are perhaps the biggest dunce I've ever seen online.
Please don't /ever/ join a debate club.

((Sorry for seeming so angry))

Posted by Anonymous on Mon, 01/07/2013 - 18:10