So, I started reading the BBC news report What should be done about plastic bags?. and could tell in the first paragraph where the report was going”
Every year 800,000 tonnes of so-called single-use plastic bags are used in the European Union – the average EU citizen used 191 of them in 2010, the Commission says, and only 6% were recycled.
(emphasis mine) So called single use? Give me a break – the vast majority of these bags ARE single use.
The article points to a report from Britain’s Environmental Agency telling us that long life bags need to be reused in order to have a lower environmental impact than single use bags. I am not exactly sure what it cost the agency to produce the report, but the conclusion falls in the “well-duh” category. Now they do quantify the trade-off. For example, they state that a cotton bag needs to be used 131 times to have a lower globak warming effect than lightweight plastic bags.
First of all, the global warming effect is not the only environmental impact. We have long said that plastic shopping bags are bad news on a lot of levels. Among other things
They can last 1000 years in landfill, but most never actually make it into landfill, instead they wind up in rivers, lake, and oceans, where they degrade into smaller and smaller pieces, and end up in the food stream.
Most of the cloth shopping bags I use take the place of 3-4 plastic bags ON EACH TRIP, and I have bags that I have used almost every week for well over 10 years.
As the Environmental Agency report notes
The key to reducing the impacts (of all types of bags) is to reuse it as many times as possible.
Directly in line with our thinking - Reduce – Reuse – Recycle