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    Plastic Bags

    Myths: Fact or Fiction

    Degrade in Landfill Myth

    The Single Use Myth


    Paper vs. Plastic Bags

    Paper vs. Plastic Studies

    Reusables Greener?

    Types of Bags

    Litter: The Facts
    Public Health

    Canada Update

    Bags Around the World

    The Oil Myth

    Made in Canada
    Ireland's Bag Tax

    Waste Diversion - Diverting Bags from Landfill

    Fiction: Plastic shopping bags are a large part of the waste stream and landfill.

    Fact: No. Plastic bags comprise less than 1% of landfill and the waste stream. ?There are a number of diversion strategies in use by municipalities to divert bags from the waste stream, based on the 3 Rs. ?

    The Facts


    Waste Diversion – Plastic Bags Are a Much Smaller Landfill Problem than Rumoured

    City of Toronto 2010/2011 Waste Audit


    Green Bin


    Residual Waste

    Total Generation

    Material Category

    Material Accepted

    All Groups (kg/hhld per yr)

    All Groups (kg/hhld per yr)

    All Groups (kg/hhld per yr)

    All Groups (kg/hhld per yr)

    Percent of total(%)

    Recovery Rate(%)

    Polyethylene Plastic Bags & Film – Packaging Carry Out Bags








    (Source: Single-family Waste Composition Audit, Combined Results for Summer 2010, Winter 2011 and Spring 2011)

    Extending the Life of a Valuable Resource

    The Ontario Picture on Plastic Shopping Bags

    Ontario Ministry of the Environment 2010 Plastic Bag 50% Reduction Task Force  
    Provincial Plastic Carry Out Bag Analysis

    The City of Toronto Picture on Plastic Shopping Bags

    Toronto Plastic Carry Out Bags


    Impact of a Switch to Paper Bags on Toronto’s Waste System

    Volume & Tonnage Impact

    • A switch to paper will increase both the volume and tonnage of material entering Toronto’s waste stream by seven times because it is much heavier and occupies more space.
    • Kraft paper bags weigh 55 grams, for instance, while plastic bags weight 8 grams. 
    • It is estimated that the current 145 trucks per year needed to manage plastic bags will balloon to 1,183 trucks per year to manage paper bags (Source: Waste Management Industry average of 10 tonne capacity per truck).

    plastic to paper trucks

    • It takes seven trucks to transport 2 million paper bags versus one truck to carry 2 million plastic bags (Source: Bag Manufacturers Producing Plastic & Paper Bags).

     Environmental Impact

    • A switch to paper will generate seven times the emmisions from the additional trucks needed to ship the paper to facilities and manage it in the waste and recycling streams. 
    • In 2006, Taiwan rescinded their ban on plastic bags in their fast food sector. The sector had switched to paper, which led to a “mountain of waste” in the system and greatly increased emissions to manage it.

    Financial Impact

    • A switch to paper bags will increases solid waste management costs significantly.


    Banning Plastic Shopping Bags will not Eliminate Plastic Bags from the Waste System 

    Resident Use Kitchen Catcher Plastic Bags


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