Plastic bags have many drawbacks: they pollute nature, suffocate marine animals, and fragment into microplastics which contaminate the environment. However, after modelling their entire life cycle, NTU scientists have found that they could prove to have a lower environmental footprint than paper or textile bags.
To compensate for the emission equivalent to that of creating a single-use plastic bag, a reusable plastic bag must nevertheless be reused four times. "Cotton and kraft paper bags have a relatively larger environmental footprint due to their greater contribution to global warming and the potential for ecotoxicity of their production," attest Asst Prof Grzegorz Lisak, Director of Residues & Resource Reclamation Centre at the Nanyang Environment and Water Research Institute (NEWRI), who led the research.
However, this study is only valid in the context of a city like Singapore with a good collection and incineration system. The findings were published in the scientific Journal of Cleaner Production in August 2020.