"Unpublished Government research suggests the plastic carrier may not be an eco villain after all – but, whisper it, an unsung hero. Hated by environmentalists and shunned by shoppers, the disposable plastic bag is piling up in a shame-filled corner of retail history. But a draft report by the Environment Agency, obtained by the Independent on Sunday, has found that ordinary high density polythene (HDPE) bags used by shops are actually greener than supposedly low impact choices."
Of course it's the greenest - a plastic bag weighs a tiny fraction of either a cloth or paper bag. The energy required/emissions from the manufacture and the transportation of plastic bags are, accordingly, also a fraction of the energy/emissions for cloth or paper. Recycled paper bags are even worse than virgin paper bags. Paper fibers are shorter and weaker in recycled pulp, and so more of the pulp is needed to create a bag with the same strength as virgin paper. But alas, way too many environmentalists refuse to look at the engineering and science behind these issues.
"HDPE bags are, for each use, almost 200 times less damaging to the climate than cotton hold-alls favoured by environmentalists, and have less than one third of the Co2 emissions than paper bags which are given out by retailers such as Primark."
Huh, this report was commissioned in 2005, scheduled for release in 2007, and England's Environment Agency can't seem to publish the findings just yet......