Know your bag: A comparative study

CriteriaThin Plastic BagsThick Plastic BagsNewspaper BagsNon-Woven BagsCloth Bags
MaterialLDPE Plastic #4 (Under 50 microns)HDPE Plastic #2Newsprint (a low-grade, machine-finished paper made from wood pulp )Made from spun, bonded, non-woven polypropylene. (A flexible resin polymer used to make rope, chairs and the tops of Tic-Tac boxes)Cotton, canvas, Jute etc
ConvenienceVery High. Water proof, strong enough for a one time use. Ideal to carry/store messy items. Easily available.Very High. Durable, water proof and air proof.Not convenient. Only for light goods. Tear when wet.Sturdy and durable. Can be wiped clean.Soft and permeable by air.Strong and durable. Can be washed.
Cost20-30 paise per bag. Free for consumers60p – Rs.5 Rs 2 – 5 per bag Rs 10 per bagMin Rs 40 per bag
HabitHighHighVery low.Slowly gaining popularity. Attractive, look like cloth bags.Used to be popular before the advent of plastic bags. Still widely used in smaller towns.
BiodegradableNo, they are photo-degradable.No (except come variants)YesNoYes
Energy UseVery LowLow on energy use as compared to paper and cloth. But thicker and heavier the bag, more the resources used.Very high. Heavy burden on forests and water bodies.Higher than plastic bagsVery high. Made from a high water consumption crop. Involves intensive use of pesticides and insecticides.
Time taken for Decomposition10-20 years500 to 1000 yearsFew weeks to a couple of monthsUndetermined1-5 years depending on quality and thickness
ReusableYes. Can be reused 4-5 timesYes. Several times.Not very durable for reuse.Yes, very durable.Highly reusable. Only downside is that there are hygiene issues due to moisture retention.
RecyclableNo recycle value for rag-pickers. Can be made into plarn (plastic yarn) and wovenYes.Yes. High resale value. Also recycled by paper mills.YesYes
Environmental ImpactChoke drains, plants, animals. Litter roads and water bodies. Consume a non-renewable resource.Manufacture uses oil, causes air, water pollution. Form a large non degradable component of solid waste. Choke drains and animalsEarth-friendly as a waste material. But production takes a heavy toll on forests.Not determined yet. Same hazards as plastic. but do not choke drains as they are permeable.Earth-friendly as a waste material. But production is energy and water intensive.