The plastic bags shoppers use to carry their goods home from the store have become an environmental battleground, and statistics are a key weapon in the fight.
Cities around the U.S. have banned or considered banning the bags because of their environmental impact. Manufacturers of the sacks have dueled with environmentalists and makers of reusable bags over carbon footprints. And last week, a maker of reusable bags settled a lawsuit filed by a plastic-bag manufacturer over competing numerical claims on bags’ imprint on the environment.
Reusable-bag makers, which market sacks made of sturdy canvas or recycled plastic meant for years or a lifetime of use, claim disposable plastic bags impose a big burden on the environment and deplete fossil fuels. Plastic-bag makers counter that a large proportion of their bags are reused or recycled, and that reusable bags must be washed frequently, diminishing their green credentials.