Life Cycle Assessment for Plastic Bags

Life Cycle Assessment for Plastic Bags

We can all agree that plastic bags have become the most problematic consumer items that you can choose nowadays. Since most shoppers are using them to bring newly purchased items and groceries, we can only assume the quantity of bags.

At the same time, consumers tend to discard them after each use, so you will be able to see them on sidewalks, and rivers, and finally, see the islands of plastic that are affecting the environment that surrounds us.

Have in mind that discarded plastic bags are not only problematic due to hygienic and aesthetic perspective, but they can also lead to fatality and death of ecosystems. You probably know that millions of marine animals die from becoming tangled or due to ingesting plastic bags.

Since they are made from petroleum, we can easily say that they are creating severe issues for the environment similarly to fossil fuels. According to one study, inks that you can find on plastic bags are made out of the lead, which means that you should avoid carrying food in them.

At the same time, the problem lies in the idea that people are still debating whether they should use them or not. Numerous companies, as well as cities, have started to avoid and ban the distribution of plastic bags, but even billions of them will reach the consumer on an annual basis.

We decided to present you everything you should know about life cycle assessment of plastic bags so that you can determine why to avoid them in the first place. The life cycle includes composition, production, usage as well as energy inputs and outputs, which are relevant for the entire period.

Material Usage

The first thing that you should know is that plastic bags have become a convenient solution that symbolizes simplicity and secure solutions for people all across the globe.

At the same time, retailers and have started to use them back in 1967, and at the beginning of the '70s, they started distributing to customers and consumers.

According to statistics, people from all across the globe tend to use one million plastic bags every minute.

Even though people became worried about the environment, and due to radical marketing efforts, they are trying to reuse shopping bags. Still, the annual consumption is making severe effects and creating numbers that we can count in billions.

Another critical issue in the entire idea is that societies tend to place value on the most convenient, faster, and accessible option without thinking that plastic can endanger the ecosystem in which they live in.

Since it is more convenient to use plastic bags from the store than to bring one that you can reuse afterward, the question arises on how to increase awareness that plastic is creating havoc.

Have in mind that some customers started to avoid plastic bags altogether from their shopping, and they have found ways to reuse bags from other materials.

Another way of creating a difference is reusing plastic bags which will reduce the overall number on an annual basis, but that is still not nearly enough, because only when people stop using plastic, we can think about cleaning our planet.

The main problem lies in the idea that the plastic bag's lifecycle is highly long, and it usually outweighs the purpose it has during the time you need it.

The idea is not to stop and reduce the usage of plastic bags, but to change the way society functions because we are dependent on convenience and while that is relevant, we will try ways that will not be effective in a long run.

Energy Usage Is Vital As Well

Have in mind that energy is one of the essential parts of every life cycle assessment, especially for plastic bags. We are talking about energy, which is produced so that you can make them by using non-renewable resources.

On the other hand, feedstock energy includes the one we use so that we can create some material. When it comes to plastic bags, the feedstock energy is the amount of energy that we consume to create HDPE or High-Density Polyethylene.

Therefore, we can easily say that it is a combination of energy that we need to process, extract as well as transport materials that we need to make plastic bags. On the other hand, process energy is the one that we use for the production of physical materials.

Have in mind that the production of plastic bags includes extrusion and polymerization processes. According to experts, one plastic bags feature 500 kJ of natural gas, 80 kJ of coal and 120 kJ of petroleum.

On the other hand, during the production of 1500 plastic bags, manufacturers are using 171 MJ of fuel, 159 MJ in fuel production, 420 MJ in the feedstock, 16 MJ in transportation, which means that it tends to reach 800 MJ in overall.


Apart from everything else, one of the most significant contributors that are affecting the environment when it comes to plastic bags in the form of transportation from the factory to the final consumer.

Since the production of bags features using raw materials, manufacturers have to find ways to transport them in during the production and to transport them out after they create them.

Therefore, the transportation process is creating carbon emissions during the entire life cycle, which creates severe harm to the environment that surrounds us.

Have in mind that retailers will not be able to store all the bags that they need for the entire year, which means that shipment is coming too often.

It also means that carbon footprint is the ongoing process, and they are shipped daily. According to estimations, the entire cost of transportation is estimated at approximately four billion dollars in the USA alone.

On the other hand, people use them for one time only, which is why transportation continues after using when it ends on landfills.

Finally, due to these reasons, every single time a new plastic bag is discarded, the process has to start from the beginning, and that creates havoc to the environment because the everything starts all over again.