Case Study: Paper or Plastic? (Essay Sample)
Paper or Plastic?
The following question may sound familiar: Do you want paper or plastic? If you have ever stood in the checkout line of a grocery store, it probably is. Many grocery stores offer a choice between either paper or plastic bags for sacking grocery items. Many people make their choice based on convenience. But what is the best choice for someone who is concerned about the environment?
On the surface, it may seem that paper is the better choice. Paper comes from a renewable resource-trees-.Plastic, on the other hand, comes from petroleum or natural gas, which are usually considered nonrenewable resources.
Upon closer examination, however, the decision may not be as simple as it seems. Removing large numbers of trees from forests to manufacture paper can disrupt woodland ecosystems. Plus a tremendous amount of energy is required to convert trees into pulp and then manufacture paper from the pulp.
To make the best decision about which product is better for the environment, the following questions should be considered.
• How much raw material, energy and water are needed to manufacture each bag?
• What waste product will result from the manufacture of each bag, and what effect will those wastes have on water, the atmosphere, and the land?
• Can recycled materials be used in the manufacture of the bag?
• How will the bag decompose, and what will the environmental impact be if it is incorrectly disposed of?
Although several studies have analyzed these questions, most have been conducted by parties with a vested interest, such as plastic or paper manufacturing companies. As you might expect, the studies done by plastic manufactures conclude that plastic bags have the least environment impact, while the studies done by paper producers conclude that paper bags have the least environmental impact. Often, the researchers fail to study all of the important factors listed above.
But the plastic versus paper debate has caused both industries to improve the way their products affect the environment. For example, paper bags recently outsold plastic bags because they were considered stronger, better for reusing or recycling, and less harmful in a landfill.
Then, a new technology allowed the plastic industry to gain a larger market share. By incorporating recycled plastic into the bags, manufactures improved the image of plastic bags
Write a one page essay about how to make the best educational decision on how to choose between the two bags keeping in mind that the choice of paper or plastic has environmental and economic consequences.
Case Study: Paper or Plastic?
Case Study: Paper or Plastic?
Plastic bags have a more straightforward production process. Conventionally, they require less energy to manufacture them and result from a by-product of the oil refining process. This is important because the amounts of carbon emissions that are associated with these are much lower. The raw material of paper bags, on the other hand, is trees. The cutting of trees leads to deforestation, which may impact the environment and lead to climate change if the trees cut are not replaced by planting new ones.
It is also important that paper bags often weigh more compared to plastic bags and are more carbon-intensive as a result due to the amount of energy required to transport them. They can also be reused a relatively high number of times as opposed to paper bags that often survive single-use if not handled correctly (Demetrious & Crossin, 2019). Therefore, their use has minor economic effects as the production process is cheaper.
Although considered less durable because they get torn easily and hardly survive more than three reuses, paper bags have a less negative impact on the environment. Paper bags easily decompose, which is the most significant when considering the overall effect of a bag on the environment (Saglam et al., 2017). On the flip side, since many people often forget to reuse bags and end up piling, it is prudent to use bags that easily decompose.
In conclusion, considering the above benefits of using plastic bags instead of paper bags, the best educational decision is to use paper
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