paper or plastic? it’s a mixed bag
When it comes to making the choice between paper or plastic shopping bags, there are more factors at play than you may think.
Plastic bags have developed a poor reputation – they’re a visible litter problem, drifting around street curbs and polluting oceans. Some countries and cities have even banned or taxed their use. While paper bags come from millions of trees, they can hold more product so fewer bags need to be used. Yet growing evidence and studies show that plastic bags consume less energy during production and recycling than paper bags.
So the environmental question – “paper or plastic?” – remains up for debate.
That’s why retailers are now offering shoppers choices to fit their lifestyle, including an important third option: reusable bags.
“At Target®, we offer our guests paper, plastic and reusable bags and empower them to make the choice that fits their lifestyle,” says Shawn Gensch, senior vice president, Marketing. “We’re proud to offer guests resources and incentives that are better for the environment, like innovative reusable bag designs and a US5-cent discount every time they use a reusable bag at a Target store. For guests that prefer plastic bags, they can be dropped off at our stores anytime and Target will have them recycled.”
Since the launch of Target’s reusable bag program, hundreds of millions of plastic bags have been deferred from landfills, while millions of dollars have been returned to guests through the US5-cent discount incentive. It’s a small incentive with a big impact.
And in the first nine months alone of Target’s overall in-store recycling program, more than 170 million plastic bags were collected and recycled (plus 1.4 million pounds of bottles and cans, and 1.5 million units of electronics). The plastic bags are sold to a vendor and converted into composite decking, extending the life cycle of the original material. And in 2011, SuperTarget stores in the U.S. switched to a new paper bag, made from a minimum of 90 percent post-consumer recycled content. Paper bags are solely available at SuperTarget stores, but guests can always ask for a plastic bag.
Ultimately, reusable bags are the option that benefits guests, Target and our communities.