Plastic Bags

Myths: Fact or Fiction

Degrade in Landfill Myth

The Single Use Myth


Paper vs. Plastic Bags

Paper vs. Plastic Studies

Reusables Greener?

Types of Bags

Litter: The Facts
Public Health

Canada Update

Bags Around the World

The Oil Myth

Made in Canada
Ireland's Bag Tax

Waste Diversion - Diverting Bags from Landfill

Fiction: Plastic shopping bags are a large part of the waste stream and landfill.

Fact: No. Plastic bags comprise less than 1% of landfill and the waste stream.  There are a number of diversion strategies in use by municipalities to divert bags from the waste stream, based on the 3 Rs.  

The Facts

Waste Diversion – Plastic Bags Are a Much Smaller Landfill Problem than Rumoured

City of Toronto 2010/2011 Waste Audit


Green Bin


Residual Waste

Total Generation

Material Category

Material Accepted

All Groups (kg/hhld per yr)

All Groups (kg/hhld per yr)

All Groups (kg/hhld per yr)

All Groups (kg/hhld per yr)

Percent of total(%)

Recovery Rate(%)

Polyethylene Plastic Bags & Film – Packaging Carry Out Bags








(Source: Single-family Waste Composition Audit, Combined Results for Summer 2010, Winter 2011 and Spring 2011)

Extending the Life of a Valuable Resource

The Ontario Picture on Plastic Shopping Bags

Ontario Ministry of the Environment 2010 Plastic Bag 50% Reduction Task Force  
Provincial Plastic Carry Out Bag Analysis

The City of Toronto Picture on Plastic Shopping Bags

Toronto Plastic Carry Out Bags


Impact of a Switch to Paper Bags on Toronto’s Waste System

Volume & Tonnage Impact

  • A switch to paper will increase both the volume and tonnage of material entering Toronto’s waste stream by seven times because it is much heavier and occupies more space.
  • Kraft paper bags weigh 55 grams, for instance, while plastic bags weight 8 grams. 
  • It is estimated that the current 145 trucks per year needed to manage plastic bags will balloon to 1,183 trucks per year to manage paper bags (Source: Waste Management Industry average of 10 tonne capacity per truck).

plastic to paper trucks

  • It takes seven trucks to transport 2 million paper bags versus one truck to carry 2 million plastic bags (Source: Bag Manufacturers Producing Plastic & Paper Bags).

 Environmental Impact

  • A switch to paper will generate seven times the emmisions from the additional trucks needed to ship the paper to facilities and manage it in the waste and recycling streams. 
  • In 2006, Taiwan rescinded their ban on plastic bags in their fast food sector. The sector had switched to paper, which led to a “mountain of waste” in the system and greatly increased emissions to manage it.

Financial Impact

  • A switch to paper bags will increases solid waste management costs significantly.


Banning Plastic Shopping Bags will not Eliminate Plastic Bags from the Waste System 

Resident Use Kitchen Catcher Plastic Bags