Plastic versus Paper

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

is non-biodegradable

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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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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Why Recycle Plastic Companies Prefer Working With Hdpe

Why Recycle Plastic Companies Prefer Working With Hdpe

Companies that recycle plastic recover the material and reprocess it in any other useful form, transforming plastic drink bottles, for instance, into toys or some other useful item. Before being recycled, plastic must be sorted according to a resin identification code, thus, drink pets have code 1, for instance. However, one of the the biggest recycling problems is that melted plastic doesn’t mix easily, it must be the same kind of plastic for the blending process to be a real success.

Different types of plastic tend to dissolve separately like oil and water, and they won’t simply mix. The recent appearance of biodegradable materials changed the recycle plastic equation by the impact brought on the re-processing costs. When some of this new type of plastic gets mixed with the classical one, it will decrease the price significantly.

In an effort to implement recycle plastic principles a technological process has been developed to use plastic as a source of carbon in the process of recovering steel scraps. Another idea that has gained popularity in Australia, Japan and the USA is called heat compression.

All unsorted plastic is put in some large rotating drums, the precess generates heat friction from the plastic parts rubbing against each other, and thus all the plastic items get mixed together no matter their nature. Criticism to this procedure appeared soon afterwards, and voices claim that the amount of energy used to rotate the drums is too high.

Recycle plastic companies prefer working with HDPE (High-density polyethylene), a more expensive plastic that takes 1.75 kg of petroleum per kilo in the manufacturing process. This is used for creating durable plastics and enjoys popularity and high demands on the market; moreover, the environmental advantage here is that this form of recycling means less waste, less carbon and sulfur dioxide.

When you recycle plastic more technological difficulties are likely to appear as compared to the re-processing of paper or metallic materials because of those code numbers associated with the type of plastic. People usually neither know the difference between these codes nor which of the items can actually be recycled.

Muna wa Wanjiru Has Been Researching and Reporting on Recycling for Years. For More Information on Recycle Plastic, Visit His Site at RECYCLE PLASTIC

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