Based on all of the bad publicity plastic has been getting recently, one might think this is an easy question to answer. But the truth of the matter may be surprising if you believe that paper is the clear winner in this equation.

Let’s look at the facts. On the plus side, paper is made from trees, which is a renewable resource. It’s also wins points for being far more biodegradable and compostable than plastic, which, on the surface, makes paper the intelligent choice for people who are concerned about the environment and the future of our planet. While plastic can take thousands of years to decompose, paper naturally degrades in less than a decade.

On the flip side, however, paper requires four times as much energy and three times as much water to produce, compared to the resources necessary to manufacture plastic. And while plastic is often made from crude oil, it also has a higher propensity for being recycled into viable products, reducing the for source materials. Also, paper is heavy and bulky. Transporting it consumes a greater amount of fuel (creating a greater amount of pollution) and disposing it takes a far greater amount of space.

Viewing the issue from an environmental impact perspective, it would appear that plastic is actually a wiser choice. The problem is that most plastic utilized by consumers today is not properly disposed of or recycled.

Bay Disposal & Recycling is leading the charge to change that. We hold ourselves to the highest environmental standards when it comes to recycling both paper and plastic, and we’re big advocates for consumer education. The more people know, the better our outlook can be.

So, while scientists are working with plastic-eating microbes to help shorten the lifecycle of current plastics that aren’t being recycled and engineers are coming up with some really great ideas about how to remove floating masses of plastic from our oceans, the bottom line to make a difference now is still on the shoulders of every consumer of products. We constantly need to be aware of ways to reduce, recycle, and repurpose the materials we use.