Sat | Dec 9, 2023

Paper bags are not sustainable

Published:Saturday | June 22, 2019 | 12:26 AM


It has been six months since the ban was imposed on the manufacturing and use of single-use plastic bags across the island. Since then, we have seen the proliferation of single-use paper bags as somewhat of a replacement/substitute, but have we asked ourselves how good of a substitute are they really?

When I recently purchased items at a local supermarket, I had to purchase a paper bag in order to transport the items. What I found most shocking was that after reaching not too far from the store, the paper bag was almost useless.

This really questions how economically viable these bags are to us as individuals, in addition to the sustainability of them in the long run.

While there are other alternatives, such as the environmentally friendly reusable shopping bags, it is quite a challenge for one to always remember to bring them to purchase only one or two items, especially in times of urgency or convenience.

The use of these paper bags brings to the fore the question of sustainability. How can we as a country/society seek to foster sustainable economic development, if one constantly has to be making an investment, which is not in our best interest?


Similarly, manufacturers are also complaining that Jamaica was not ready for such a huge step, in the sense that they were not prepared to take on the high overhead costs associated with maintaining the stock of paper bags, which is relatively more expensive in comparison to plastic.

Likewise, the health sector is also threatened by the reusable bags, because they allow for the spreading of viruses through repeat contact with different items, persons or environments.

Sustainability should seek to preserve resources for the benefit of future generations, and with the rate at which this new plastic bag ‘substitute’ is going, achieving Vision 2030 is utterly unrealistic/futile.


Equality Youth Jamaica Representative