We might think of paper as a material which is easily recyclable, but unfortunately, that isn’t always true. Once used, paper straws will be soggy and contaminated by whatever you’ve drunk through them. That means that most councils in India do not have the infrastructure to recycle them.
Of course, it isn’t only about where the straw goes at the end of its life. Paper is also pretty resource-intensive to produce. It’s made from trees, which can make it seem like a good choice environmentally — trees are a renewable source. However, they’re also an incredibly valuable source of carbon capture, so we shouldn’t be cutting them down and using them up for anything other than an incredibly good reason. In my eyes, paper straws are not that.
Some studies argue that paper items are more resource and energy-intensive to produce than paper. This includes statistics like:
- Causes pollution: Paper production emits air pollution, specifically 70 percent more pollution than the production of plastic bags [source: Thompson]. According to certain studies, manufacturing paper emits 80 percent more greenhouse gases [source: Lilienfield]. And, consider that making paper uses trees that, instead, could be absorbing carbon dioxide. The paper bag making process also results in 50 times more water pollutants than making plastic bags [source: Thompson].
- Consumes energy: Even though petroleum goes into making plastic, it turns out that making a paper bag consumes four times as much energy as making a plastic bag, meaning-making paper consumes a good deal of fuel [source: reusablebags.com].
- Consumes water: The production of paper bags uses three times the amount of water it takes to make plastic bags [source: Lilienfield].
- Inefficient recycling: The process of recycling paper can be inefficient — often consuming more fuel than it would take to make a new bag [source: Milstein]. In addition, it takes about 91 percent more energy to recycle a pound of paper than a pound of plastic [source: reusablebags.com].
- Produces waste: According to some measures, paper bags generate 80 percent more solid waste [source: Lilienfield].
- Biodegrading difficulties: Surprisingly, the EPA has stated that in landfills, the paper doesn’t degrade all that much faster than plastics [source: Lilienfield].
Unfortunately, that is simply not the case! In fact, paper products, in general, require more energy and resources to manufacture than plastic products (Source). This may seem counter-intuitive, but it’s actually true!
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We completely agree! All single-use plastics should slowly be phased out of production entirely. But also with plastic, we should be very much careful while using the Paper Straws, because at the end if they were not recycled, it takes 20-200 years for Paper Straws to decompose which is almost lined up with plastic Straws.