Paper bags vs plastic: What’s really best for the environment?

The Warehouse, Noel Leeming and Fresh Choice Nelson are the latest retailers to strike a blow for the environment and ditch plastic bags – or jump on the bandwagon, depending on your point of view.

The Warehouse Group, which includes the ‘red sheds’, Noel Leeming, Warehouse Stationery and Torpedo 7, is opting for ‘compostable’ bags, while Fresh Choice Nelson is opting for paper.

“We care for the environment and the community, and we know how negative the impact of plastic is,” said Warehouse chief experience officer David Benattar.

The Warehouse Group currently goes through about 21 million plastic bags every year – even though the red sheds charge 10c for each one.

“The only way to solve the problem is to ban the bag and that’s exactly what we’re going to do,” Fresh Choice Nelson co-owner Mark A’Court told Stuff.

The problem he’s talking about is pollution. Plastic bags end up in the oceans, can take hundreds or even thousands of years to decompose, and are a threat to wildlife, which can mistake them for food.

But are paper and reusable bags any better? The answer, as it often is when it comes to environmental impacts, is that it depends.

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