Why Should Supermarkets Use Recyclable Bags Instead of Plastic Bags?December 2, 2016
Why not Paper Bags?
Some supermarkets are making the switch from plastic bags to paper. Unfortunately, it is not necessarily the best option. Although paper is a better choice than plastic, they still take a lot of resources from our environment. For instance, rendering to the American Forest and Paper Association, the US used 10 billion paper grocery bags in 1999 alone. That is quite a few trees.
When supermarkets decide not to use plastic or paper bags, there needs to be a solution. Grocery store customers need a way to carry their groceries. Some businesses reuse the boxes their products come in. However, this is not the best system because boxes are not always available for every customer. In result, many environmentalists agree that high quality recyclable bags are the best choice. Not only are recyclable bags made from non-toxic materials but they do not need to be discarded after each use.
Natural Resources and Health
The first step of recycling is generally done by hand. It is not uncommon for workers to sort through tons of garbage on an hourly basis. If a worker comes across an open bag filled with materials, it is put aside because there is no time to sort through it. These same bags can contain just about anything such as glass, plastic, aluminum cans, rotten food or even dangerous materials like medical equipment.
Since it is also too time intense and dangerous to sort through bags, the potential recyclables are thrown into a separate pile. In result, these valuable resources will be thrown into a landfill and not reclaimed.
Plastic bags also interfere with the recycling process when items are sorted. The items are fed into rotating tunnels by a conveyer belt and then pushed unto a spinning wheel. The “garbage” then goes by a set of magnets and whirling currents so that different types of materials are separated such as aluminum, glass, paper and other items. Unfortunately, plastic bags cannot go through the sorting machine. Instead it has to be sorted by hand. This is because the plastic gets caught in the conveyor belts and spinning wheels; jamming the whole system. At this point, the plastic bags need to be removed by hand which can be quite dangerous and costly.
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