A Life Cycle Assessment conducted by CSU Chico, comparing reusable and single-use plastic bags has found that after as few as 8 uses, reusable bags have fewer environmental impacts than single-use plastic or paper bags.
The study examined reusable plastic bags made from polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene (PE). In California, existing infrastructure allows PE products to be collected and recycled into post-consumer resin, or pcr, which can be used to make reusable bags.
Reusable PE bags with 40% pcr were found to have the lowest environmental impacts after just 8 uses, with an even greater environmental benefit after 52 uses.
The study also tested several plastic bags for lead and cadmium. All domestically produced PE bags tested negative for both heavy metals, while more than 70% of the imported bags made from PP tested positive for either lead or cadmium.
In addition to the environmental and health benefits, consider the economics. A consumer can choose a reusable PE bag made in California from locally recycled materials and supporting local jobs, or choose a single-use plastic bag made in an overseas factory.
The choice should be simple.
Visit the CAW website to see what we're doing to fight single-use bag waste.