Econintersect: You read the title of this post correctly – and this is a USA plastic bag manufacturer’s response to our infographic post on 29 November 2012 – Infographic of the Day: Plastic Bags Are Suffocating the World.
Unfortunately, the infographic attempts to paint negative and false picture of plastic bags, when in fact they are the better environmental option. As a manufacturer and recycler of plastic bags, Hilex knows all the details of how plastic bags are made. While the infographic states that plastic bag manufacturing uses 37 billion barrels of oil, here in the United States plastic bags are made from natural gas and post-consumer content, NOT oil. This is significant because plastic bags do not impact our demand for foreign oil.
Additionally, based on the typical consumer use, recent research and experts have agreed that plastic bags are in many ways an environmentally preferable choice to the usual alternatives: while cotton bags must be reused 131 times before becoming a ‘greener’ option than plastic bags, on average they are only reused 52 times. And when discarded, they take up a lot more landfill space than common plastic bags. You can take a look at some of these recent studies and articles here and here.
We like debate, and few things in the world are black and white. There are some glaring omissions in the plastic bag arguments on both sides (e.g. what about the plastic bags which are not recycled (anti)?; what is the real environmental costs of options to plastic bags?).