Plastic carrier bag is best according to new study

The paper bag must be reused over 40 times before it is better for the environment than a regular plastic bag. This according to a new analysis from the Danish Environmental Protection Agency. From an environmental point of view, the plastic carrier bag is the best choice.

‘Forget the cloth carrier bag and the ‘biodegradable’ bio-plastics. Ordinary plastic carrier bags are the best choice for the environment.’ - says the Danish Environmental Protection Agency in their press release. Reason is that paper bags are rarely recycled or used as waste bags because they break easily. 

The analysis shows that the paper bag should be used 43 times if its environmental impact should be less than a regular plastic bag, used only once. For cloth bags in conventional cotton the number is 7,100 and for organic cotton 20,000.

Below you see the number of times you need to reuse a carrier bag in different materials so that the environmental impact is as small as for a plastic bag. This due to the fact that the plastic carrier bag is used only once and then used as a garbage bag. 

  • Ordinary plastic carrier bag: 1 time
  • Paper bag: approx. 40 times
  • Bio-based plastics: approx 40 times
  • Cloth bag in cotton: approx 7,000-20,000 times

Source: "Life Cycle Assessment of grocery carrier bags ', The Danish Environmental Protection Agency 2018