Press release
7 Dec 2016, 11:00 CET

Paper bags are the low-carbon choice, new study finds

Plastic bags are commonplace in retail. But there’s an alternative that is much better for the climate. “Of the different carrier bags that we studied, the paper bag made by material from BillerudKorsnäs has the smallest carbon footprint,” said Lena Dahlgren from IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute. 

EU citizens use an average of 200 plastic bags a year, many of which are used in the current Christmas shopping period. Lots of plastic bags are only used once and end up in landfill.

A Swedish life cycle analysis carried out by IVL Swedish Environmental Institute has now shown that the carbon footprint of a carrier bag made from recycled plastic is twice that of a paper bag made by material from BillerudKorsnäs.

“The company uses a significant proportion of renewable energy in its production. That contributes considerably to paper bags made by their materials having the smallest carbon footprint,” said Lena Dahlgren, project manager at IVL.

BillerudKorsnäs is a Swedish company that aims to be a leader in the transition to a sustainable society. The company produces low-carbon packaging material based on responsibly managed forests in the Nordic region and is now encouraging retailers across Europe to reduce their carbon footprint.

“The study clearly shows the advantages of our bio-based material and our energy-efficient production. We now know with certainty that our product has significant climate benefits over other materials,” said Henrik Essén, SVP Communication & Sustainability at BillerudKorsnäs.

An EU directive from last year requires a reduction in the number of plastic bags. The EU’s main aim is to reduce the number of plastic bags being thrown away. But the new study shows that switching to paper bags also offers lower carbon emissions.

“The results of this study now offer retail chains the opportunity to review their carrier bag offering and choose low-carbon bags, and we can be part of that solution,” said Henrik Essén.

Read the full report here