Is paper much more environmental than plastic? No

September 23,2021

Plastic are much wider used than paper in package industry. And is paper much more environmental than plastic? The answer is no as both the two materials have their own pros and cons.


Ban on free plastic bags is raised by Chinese government, trying to reduce the white pollution caused by the use of disposable plastic bags. And in recent years, the milky tea industry in China did something special to show their determination on protecting environment, replacing plastic straw with paper one.


PP lid


Researchers assess the two material from the following aspects:


Are the raw materials for that material renewable or non-renewable?

How much energy is needed, water is consumed, and pollution is created through the manufacturing process? What are the energy and resource requirements of distributing and storing the raw materials?

What are the end-of-life options for the raw materials? How easily can they be recycled back into themselves?


Are the raw materials for that material renewable or non-renewable?


Plastic derives directly from fossil fuels, most definitely a nonrenewable resource while paper is typically made from trees, a renewable resource, though very occasionally (thus far, especially in the US) from materials like straw or hemp. So in this battle, paper performs better than plastic.


Energy consumption in the manufacturing process


The manufacturing of plastics is energy intensive, with 4% of the global oil production going into just the processing of plastic. But the plastic manufacturing process itself actually requires less energy than paper and even bio-plastic. A study conducted by Boustead Consulting & Associates Ltd.  Shows that producing 1,000 paper bags requires 3.4 times more energy than traditional plastic.

Plastic won this battle again.


Energy consumption in distributing and storing process


Plastic bags are lighter and thinner than paper therefore they could save more energy to ship across the entire supply chain. They also require significantly less energy and space to store than the equivalent number of paper-based mailers.


Recycle rate


On the one hand, plastic bags can be recycled; however, this is hard for consumers as the ubiquitous disposable plastic packages such as plastic lid and bowl when you order a take-out.


On the other hand, Paper is a bit of an end-of-life superhero. According to the EPA, more than 64 percent of the paper and paperboard generated as MSW was recycled in 2015.


Paper performs batter than plastic when it comes to recycle rate.


Plastic is not as evil as we think while paper is not as green as we think. But we can’t deny the convenience these material brought us.


Package in frozen food


Package in frozen food includes paper and plastic. And plastic material could be divide into PP and PET, they have a little difference in their physical and chemical features. Taking ice cream for example, paper cup with paper lid for ice cream and plastic bags are widely used on the market. Some merchants also combine paper with plastic material, such as PET lid for paper bowl or PP lid for paper bowl, but seldom to see plastic cup with ice cream because plastic has a poor ability in freezing resistance.


Take-out industry


With the development of take-out, more and more paper are used to package, such as paper bowl and stackable paper lid for soup container as well as plastic lid.


paper lid


The larger demand of paper and plastic package is an inevitable tendency, what we need to do is not to prevent the use of these package but to develop new techniques to degrade plastic goods.


We are profession manufacturer for paper and plastic package, more information, please contact us.