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Paper vs. Plastic

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Emily Marlowe

on 3 May 2015

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Transcript of Paper vs. Plastic

Life Cycle Assessment
What is LCA
Problem
Paper or Plastic
Plastic Bags
Paper Bags
Case Study
Carbon Dioxide Emissions
Our Carbon Footprint
Carbon footprint of shopping bags in China, Hong Kong, and India
Muthu, S.S.; Li, Y.; Hu, J.Y.; Mock, P.Y. Carbon footprint of shopping bags in China, Hong Kong, and India. J. Atmospheric Environment.
2000
. 45.2, pp. 469-475.
Conclusion
The LCA of plastic bags is significantly lower than that of paper bags. Reasons for this include the amount of energy it takes to produce each bag, the weight of the bags, and the avaliability, ease, and process of recycling.

This has led us to the conclusion that plastic bags are "more green" than paper bags. However, when it comes to being environmentally friendly reusable bags are the clear option.
Solutions
Polymers from Renewable Resources
Degradable Plastics
Paper vs. Plastic
It's in the Bag
Our Options
Plastic Bags and Paper Bags
How's it's Made
How it's Recycled
Pros and Cons
4
How it's Made
How it's Recycled
Pro's and Cons
LCA of Plastic Bags
LCA of Paper Bags
Plastic bags are made from non-renewable resources such as petroleum and natural gas
High Density Polyethylene and Low Density Polyethylene are raw materials used in production of plastic bags.
Properties and Characteristics of LDPE
High degree of branching
Results in voids in the polymer structure
Transparent
Low Density
0.91-0.94 g/cm^3
Softens over a broad range of temperature
There are three types of recycling for polymers.

1) Incineration to recover energy
Produces residual ash
Plastic waste made from hydrocarbons has a high energy content making it a possible fuel source
2) Mechanical recycling to lower grade products
HDPE process makes it unable to be used recycled for food applications, so it is predominantly used in low value application (drainage pipes, refuse containers, and bin liners)
HDPE is second most recycled plastic with 42%
3) Chemical Recycling to monomers
Not widely used in commercial scale
Monomers are reused to produce new polymers.
Can be recycled back to feedstock through a process that uses heat to break bonds
There are 2 types of Recycling for Plastic Bags
1) Post Industrial Recycling
Plastic scrap is reused at the manufacturing facility to produce plastic product
2) Post Consumer Recycling
The plastic product is recycled by the consumer
either through reuse or being sent to a facility
Pros:
Emits less carbon dioxide during manufacturing
Consumes less energy
Produces less waste
Requires less water
Cheaper in cost than paper bags
Can easily be reused
Can be heated and reformed several times and be reused
Cons:
Rate of decomposition is slow (up to 1000 years)
Majority are not recycled but thrown in to landfills (up to 96%)
LDPE is only recycled at 0.02% of all plastic recycled
Comes from a non renewable resource
Accounts for 4% of the worlds total oil production
In an landfill there is incomplete degradation and methane production due to lack of oxygen
Get into storm drains and pollute the ocean!
Wildlife mistake plastic bags for food, which results in starvation for the animal
Made from trees- specifically pulp wood
a renewable resource
Once the trees have been cut down, they need to dry for 3 years before they can be used
The bark is striped and cooked under very high pressure and temperature
Limestone and acid is then used to treat the wood
the wood becomes pulp
3 tons of wood chips are required to make 1 ton of pulp
The pulp is washed and bleach
requires thousands of gallons of clean water
1 part pulp to 400 parts water is added to a mixture of color and water
The mixture is added to a web of bronze wires in order to remove the pulp
the pulp is then rolled into paper and then made into paper bags
During this process coal and natural gas are used as energy for manufacturing
Paper bags are biodegradable
Can be reprocessed and used again to make other paper products
Can also be used to make corrugated cardboard
When paper is recycled it goes through a process where it is re-pulped which requires hydrogen peroxide, sodium silicate, and sodium hydroxide in bleach and separate the pulp fibers
The fibers are washed and pressed and rolled into paper after ensuring there are not any contaminants
Pros:
Made from a renewable resource
Biodegradable
Can hold more products compared plastic bags
Cons:
Requires the cutting of trees, which impacts plants and habitats for animals
Consumes a lot of energy, which is obtained though the use of fossil fuels to produces electricity
The biodegradability is hindered because of modifications to hydroxyl groups which have been acetylated.
Wet paper bags can't be recycled because it contaminates the rest of the recycled products
The nation's paper industry produces 12 million tons of solid waste per year
Kimberly Gonzalez; Emily Marlowe
4/20/15 Green Chemistry

On average, Americans make 2 trips to the supermarket each week and spend about $60 per visit which is approximately $4000 per year
The manufacturing of grocery bags requires energy and emits carbon dioxide
Once these bags reach the consumer, the recyclability and biodegradability of these bags becomes a concern.

LCA is used to measure the environmental impact of a product from the beginning stages of raw material manufacturing, to manufacturing, distribution, use and disposal.

This analyzes the amount of solid and liquid waste, air pollution, green house gas emission, and land usage
1 ton of LDPE from natural gas emits 2 tons of carbon dioxide
requires 70% less energy, 35% less fossil fuel, 50% less carbon emission, 79% less municipal waste
Using recycled plastic bags reduces the carbon footprint by 30-50% and waste by 50-75%
The paper bags in this study contained 30% recycled paper
The amount of plastic bags were normalized to an equivalent carrying capacity of 1000 paper bags and 1500 plastic bags
Emits 70% more pollution and 80% more greenhouse gases
50 times more water pollutants
generates 80% more solid waste
Polyethylene bags are 10% the mass of paper bags
The total amount of greenhouse gas emitted by a product as carbon dioxide equivalents
Carbon dioxide is one of the main contributors to the amount of greenhouse gases.
Carbon dioxide emissions come from the energy needed to convert raw materials into plastic as well as the manufacturing process of paper
Recycled polyethylene emits less carbon dioxide
Transporting paper bags requires more trucks which emits more air pollution due to paper bags being 5-7 times heavier than plastic
LCA of polyethylene plastic bags, compostable plastic bags, recycled paper bags
They contain an improved biodegradability compared to petroleum based polymers
Contains carbon dioxide neutrality
Biodegradability can be increased by the addition of starch into the polyolefin materials
Starch has been added to bags as well as paper at levels between 6% and 40% by weight
Silane coupling agents are used to make the hydrophilic starch more compatable wtih the polyethylene
Additon of cornstarch is used to make polyethylene more degradable, acting as as an auto-oxidant that goes through photo-degradation via a radical mechanism
In the study they compare 4 types of bags. The Life cycle assessment was then used to compare the carbon footprint with and without recycling over the next 20, 50, and 100 years
Plastics from renewable resources
Adding a biodegradable segment into the backbone of the polymer
Degradable polymers from petroleum sources
Additon of a chemical in order to enhance the rate of photo or chemical degredatioin, such as ferrocene
Degradable polymers can result in methane production due to a lack of oxygen while in the landfill
Acknowledgements
Muthu, S.S.; Li, Y.; Hu, J.Y.; Mock, P.Y. Carbon footprint of shopping bags in China, Hong Kong, and India.
J. Atmospheric Environment
.
2000
. 45.2, pp. 469-475.
Starch-based plastic bags require less energy to produce than polyethylene plastic bags and less energy than recycled paper bags
Less green house gases were emitted for the starch-based plastic bags
Muthu, S.S.; Li, Y.; Hu, J. Y.; Mock, P. Y.; Ding Xuemei.Eco-Impact of Plastic and Paper Shopping Bags.
Journal Of Engineered Fabrics & Fibers (JEFF) 7
.
2012
no. 1: 26-37.
Muthu, S.S.; Li, Y.; Hu, J.Y.; Mock, P.Y. An Exploratory Comparative Studyon Eco-Impact of Paper and Plastic Bags.
J. of Fiber Bioengineering and Informantics
.
2009
. 1.4, pp. 308-320
Greene, J.P. Sustainable Plasatics with Reduced Carbon Footprint & Reduced Waste.
GPEC 2010, Global Plastics Environmental Conference, Orlando, FL, United States
,
Mar. 8-10
,
2010
Lancaster, M;
Green Chemistry An Introductroy Text
. RCS Publishing; Cambridge, UK; 2nd ed;
2010
Greene, J.P. Sustainable Plasatics with Reduced Carbon Footprint & Reduced Waste.
GPEC 2010, Global Plastics Environmental Conference, Orlando, FL, United States
,
Mar. 8-10
,
2010
Muthu, S.S.; Li, Y.; Hu, J.Y.; Mock, P.Y. An Exploratory Comparative Studyon Eco-Impact of Paper and Plastic Bags.
J. of Fiber Bioengineering and Informantics
.
2009
. 1.4, pp. 308-320
http://money.howstuffworks.com/personal-finance/budgeting/average-american-grocery-bill.htm
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