Single-Use Bag Legislation
Paper bags are made from a renewable resource—trees—that help reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
- U.S. forests and forest and paper products offset 10 percent of annual U.S. carbon dioxide emissions.
- Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI) participants alone plant 1.7 million trees each day in North America.
- Two-thirds of the power used to make paper comes from carbon-neutral, renewable sources.
- The fossil fuel—natural gas—from which plastic bags are made and the fossil fuels burned to power the manufacture of plastic bags both lead to a net increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
The recovery rate for paper bags is four times greater than that of plastic bags.
- Paper bags’ and sacks’ recovery rate is 49.5 percent, which helps keep them out of landfills and extends the fiber supply, according to the EPA (2009).
- Plastic bags’ recovery rate is nearly 10 percent. Plastic bags are a leading cause of ocean litter and are a major threat to marine animals.
- Every ton of paper that is recovered for recycling saves 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space.
- More than 78 percent of the U.S. population has access to recycling Kraft paper bags. In 2010, 87 percent of the U.S. population had access to paper and paperboard community recycling programs.
- In 2011, 66.8 percent of paper used in the U.S. was recovered for recycling.
- Paper bags are ideal as a container to hold compostable waste.
- Paper bags are readily compostable, as evidenced by their use throughout the country in municipal leaf mulching programs.
- Under perfect conditions, a plastic bag may take a thousand years to biodegrade. In a landfill, plastic bags decompose while presenting litter problems and threats to wildlife, especially marine life. If buried, they block the natural flow of oxygen and water through soil. If burned, they release dangerous toxins and carcinogens into the air.
- Paper bags help reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by requiring less energy to produce than plastic bags. On average, two-thirds of the energy used to make paper is carbon-neutral or renewable. When biomass such as wood is combusted for energy, it releases carbon dioxide that it had absorbed dur¬ing growth back into the atmosphere. When harvested biomass is replanted, it once again absorbs carbon dioxide. In contrast, the combustion of fossil fuel is not carbon neutral.