Study finds lightweight LDPE bags have lowest environmental impact / Independent life cycle assessment in Denmark
An independent life cycle assessment (LCA) of grocery carrier bag materials has shown that plastics have the overall lowest impact to the environment. The Danish environmental protection agency, Miljøstyrelsen (Copenhagen;, has recently published a study that analysed the life cycle environmental impacts of production, use and disposal of carrier bags provided in supermarkets in Denmark.

The study took place during the period October to December 2017, and its objective was to identify the grocery bag with the best environmental performance, as well as the recommended number of reuse times and best disposal option. The carrier bag materials analysed were LDPE, PP, PET, rPET, starch-complexed biopolymer, paper, cotton and jute/PP/cotton composite. Assessment of each bag was carried out according to three end-of-life options – incineration, recycling and reuse as a waste bin bag before incineration. For carrier bag alternatives, the assessment took into account production of the bag and its packaging (assumed to occur in Europe), transportation to Denmark, use as well as disposal, which could occur in Denmark or Europe.

A main finding from the analysis is that, regarding production and disposal, lightweight LDPE carrier bags available for purchase in Danish supermarkets provide the lowest impacts for most environmental indicators considered in the study. In addition, LDPE bags with rigid handles provided the lowest environmental impacts in the majority of the categories assessed.

The "most preferable" disposal option, after reusing a carrier bag as many times as possible, was to reuse it as a waste bin bag. This "is better than simply throwing away the bag in the residual waste and it is better than recycling. Recycling can potentially offer benefits in the case of heavy plastic bags, such as PP, PET and polyester. Reuse as a waste bin bag is most beneficial for light carrier bags, such as LDPE, paper and biopolymer," the study states.

European Plastic Films (EuPF;, a sector group of European Plastics Converters (EuPC, Brussels / Belgium;, said it welcomes the LCA analysis, which is based on the European Commission’s 2011 publication "Assessment of impacts of options to reduce the use of single-use plastic carrier bags".

"Life Cycle Assessment of grocery carrier bags" (February 2018) as a PDF file
22.03.2018 [239344-0]
Published on 22.03.2018

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