'Plastic bags could be 'eco-friendlier' than paper and cotton bags'
Scientists from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) have modelled the cradle-to-grave environmental impact of using different types of shopping bags and report that in cities like Singapore, single-use plastic bags (made from high-density polyethylene plastic) have a lower environmental footprint than single-use paper and multi-use cotton bags.
Reusable plastic bags made from polypropylene non-woven plastic were the most eco-friendly option, followed by single-use plastic bags. The model revealed that cotton and kraft paper bags have relatively bigger environmental footprints due to their greater contribution to global warming and eco-toxicity potential in their production.
However, the NTU team stressed that their model applied specifically to Singapore and might be applicable in cities such as Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Dubai. Reusable and single-use plastic bags would be a comparatively better environmental option only in these cities, due to the model's focus on densely populated metropolitan areas that have waste management structures with similar end-of-life incineration facilities.
The findings were published in the scientific Journal of Cleaner Production in August 2020.
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