Plastic versus Paper
In modern environmental thinking, plastic is often touted as greater evil than paper. Their deterioration periods are always mentioned to emphasize the destructive effects they have on nature and its inhabitants, mainly on us humans:
Comparison of deterioration periods:
orange peels – 6 mos
paper – 2 to 5 mos
plastic-coated milk carton – 5 yrs
plastic bag – 20 yrs
aluminum tin cans – 50 to 100 yrs
batteries – 100 yrs
glass bottles – 1,000,000 yrs
plastic soda bottles – forever
Attention is also brought to the obvious shortcomings of plastic, of which 40% of all that are manufactured is used for packaging:
produces chlorofluorocarbon (CFC = ozone destroyer)
produces chemical waste
takes landfill space
kills marine life
clogs sewer pipes, leading to stagnant, standing water and associated health hazards.
It is estimated that somewhere between 500 billion and one trillion plastic bags are consumed throughout the world each year.
On the other hand, paper manufacture is not without its disadvantages.
Compared to plastic bag production, paper bag production creates
2 times more sulfur dioxide
3 times more carbon monoxide
6 times more dust
50 times more waste
To cite a specific example, production of plastic cups is more efficient and cleaner than the production of paper cups.
On per ton basis: 650,000 pcs plastic cups
uses 5,000 kgs. steam
uses 1,800 kwh electricity
On the other hand: 100,000 pcs. paper cups
uses 10,000 kgs. steam
uses 6,400 kwh electricity
Comparison of the energy needed to produce an original bag
plastic bag: 594 BTUs vs. paper bag: 2511 BTU’s
Comparison of the energy needed to recycle a bag once
plastic bag: 17 BTUs vs. paper bag 1444 BTU’s
Likewise, it would take approximately seven trucks to transport the same number of paper bags as can be transported by a single truck full of plastic bags, because these are so thin and lightweight.
As a final argument, when disposed off after use, plastics 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, or around 5 percent by weight. Paper comprises 12 percent by weight of garbage dumps, and also decomposes very little in airless landfills, just the way plastics are non-biodegradable. 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.
Some countries have already resorted to extreme measures in efforts to contravene the plastics onslaught. Bangladesh banned plastic bags after drains blocked by bags contributed to widespread monsoon flooding. Ireland decreased plastic bag consumption by placing a consumer tax on plastic bags. Perhaps the most strict plastic bag regulation was implemented in the Indian province of Himachal Pradesh, where people caught with plastic bags are fined 00.
In the end, most everyone can help reduce the amount of both materials, plastic and paper, by:
investing in high-quality reusable bags to eliminate the equivalent average of 1,000 bags
reusing bags that are in the house for a myriad of other purposes or intention
keeping them always ready for use in the car, office, home, or person
not asking for them when it is really not so necessary
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Article from articlesbase.com
Plastic lasts foerver. It never biodegrades. Yet we use it to make disposable objects that we discard after a short period of time, sometimes just minutes, or a few hours. Take action. Bring your own bags and cups. Avoid plastic bottles. Demand laws banning or taxing plastic bags and other disposables. Time to act is now!
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