World Environment Day 2023: Paper bags provide a more environmentally friendly packaging option for businesses and consumers
Plastic carry bags, cutlery, bottles, and containers have become such a staple of our daily lives that we are unaware of the harm they are causing to the environment. According to a joint report titled "Plastics, The Potential and Possibilities" by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and Praxis Global Alliance, India creates approximately 3.4 million tonnes (MT) of plastic garbage, with just 30% of it recycled. In addition to human activity, industries have a big part to play in the growing plastic footprint. As a result of rising human expectations, industries are taking steps to meet those demands as soon as possible, which is causing a lot of waste to accumulate. The gathered waste ends up in the oceans, where it takes the lives of many marine animals. Approximately one million seabirds, 100,000 marine animals, marine turtles, and "countless" fish per year are killed by plastic garbage, according to the UN.
Not just animals, but humans as well, are at risk from plastics. When plastics, whether macro or microplastics, enter the environment, they contaminate and build up in food chains through agricultural soils, terrestrial and aquatic food chains, and the water supply. This plastic, in turn, has the propensity to leach harmful chemicals already existing in the environment, making them accessible for direct or indirect human exposure and negatively damaging their health.
Given the growing concern around plastic hazards and increased plastic footprints, the need for sustainable and environment-friendly solutions has risen. In this context, paper bags have appeared to become a preferred choice for individuals and businesses in a bid to reduce their plastic footprints. The Indian paper bag market is projected to grow to $942.6 million by 2028, per a study by IMARC Group. This data demonstrates that, given the movement in consumer behaviour towards environmentally friendly alternatives, it is expected that the use of paper bags will increase in the future.
Moreover, when it comes to paper bags, minimalistic designs have been gaining greater traction. These kinds of designs reduce waste, use less energy during production, and lower overall production costs, which benefits the environment by lowering energy use and carbon footprint.
Paper bag and minimalistic designs: Significance
According to the Government of India, India's plastic garbage creation has more than doubled in the last five years, with an average yearly rise of 21.8%. Given how the production of plastic waste has grown over time, the harm it is doing to the ecosystem is enormous. Paper bags, which serve as a superior replacement for plastic bags, are a sustainable packaging solution.
Given the eco-friendly nature of paper bags, they are biodegradable, can be used for soil fertilization, and are easy to use. What makes them more suitable for the environment is that they are completely recyclable and can be reused a desired number of times. Contrary to plastic, which emits extremely harmful and dangerous fumes into the atmosphere throughout the recycling process, paper recycling poses no such risk.
The use of paper gives these bags their strength, space, and fashionable appearance, whether they are used for groceries, food delivery, shopping, laundry, or medicinal purposes. These bags can also withstand greater pressure and weight than plastic bags due to their unique dynamics. Since they are available in a wide range of forms, dimensions, colours, applications, durability, and thickness, paper bags are becoming more and more popular. This flexibility enables firms to create unique designs that meet their specific fashion requirements, which is why more and more businesses are switching to paper bags.
Another factor driving the uptake of paper bags among consumers and businesses is their simplistic design. When it comes to packaging, minimalistic design reduces waste creation, energy usage during manufacturing, and overall production costs. Additionally, because it frequently uses simpler printing techniques and calls for fewer resources, it can be a cost-effective alternative for businesses. For brands that create huge quantities of goods, in particular, this can result in significant cost savings.
Because it utilizes fewer resources and produces less waste than intricate designs, minimalist packaging is frequently connected with sustainability. Also, minimalist packaging can drastically reduce a brand's environmental impact because it uses fewer materials and is highly sustainable.
Ways paper bags can reduce plastic footprints
Eco-friendly in nature: Paper bags are regarded as biodegradable and harmless for the environment because they don't contain any hazardous or dangerous substances. A plastic bag degrades in a landfill over the course of about 1,000 years. The opposite is true with paper bags, which can be recycled as needed and reused as many times as desired. Therefore, choosing paper bags will not only lessen the plastic footprint but also protect the environment from contamination.
Energy saver: The fact that paper bags are made from unbleached, recycled brown paper, which is an excellent way to conserve natural resources and energy and lower greenhouse gas emissions, is one of the largest environmental benefits of using paper bags. Additionally, as paper bags are typically constructed from resources that are readily available locally, they have lower transportation costs, which ultimately contributes to energy savings.
Reuse and decompose: Paper bags are safer for the environment than plastic bags since they won't remain on the earth's surface for the foreseeable future. In actuality, the majority of paper bag waste degrades in less than 6 months and, in the majority of cases, becomes fertile waste for plant growth. Thus, reusing paper bags for an extended period of time is a wise decision because, unlike plastic, they do not harm the environment by decomposing quickly.
Durable: Traditional plastic bags lack the durable structure that paper bags have. Due to their resistance to tearing, toughness, and longevity, paper bags have an edge over plastic ones. Furthermore, they can be reused multiple times and have sufficient space to hold a lot of items. According to the study by the Environment Agency (the leading public body protecting and improving the environment in England and Wales), it was found that paper bags can be reused at least three times.
Go sustainable with paper bags!
There is no secret that plastic is harmful to the environment. It causes harm to marine life, contributes significantly to both land and ocean pollution, and takes decades to degrade. In addition, greenhouse gases produced during the production of plastics contribute to climate change, which has become a pressing concern today. And as we keep spewing more and more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, climate change will transform into a serious hazard to both people and nature.
The adverse effects of plastic on the environment are pretty evident. As a result, adopting more sustainable, eco-friendly solutions has become the need of the hour. Here, paper bags come into the picture, giving businesses and individuals a more environmentally friendly packaging choice. Unlike plastic, paper bags do not emit any particularly hazardous or deadly gases when degraded, making them safe for the environment.
Moreover, as we move towards an environment conscious and educated society ahead, sustainable solutions are going to be at the forefront, with paper bags leading the way.