A review of the current state of consumer selection of carrier bags with regards to environmental global warming potential
Abstract: There are several different options of carrier bags available at supermarket retailers with and estimated consumption of 98.6 billion plastic carrier bags in the EU alone. The aim of this paper is to seek insight to the environmental impacts of the different carrier bags and put this in relation to GWP values. The paper also aims to investigate the consumer selection of carrier bags in Swedish Supermarkets and their motives behind their carrier bags selection. To evaluate the environmental impacts of the carrier bags a literature review was conducted using LCA’s of carrier bags and by placing these in a Swedish context. The consumption was evaluated using direct observations of customers in different Supermarkets and structured interviews were made to seek the factors behind the customer’s selection. The results show that the conventional HDPE bag has the lowest GWP values for single-use and that the cotton bags have to be reused at least 173 times to achieve similar values. The observations indicated that the single-use plastic bags were the most commonly used product but that the customers preferred to use the LDPE bags as their main carrier bag. The observations also showed that the cotton bags were the most reused option and the interviews identified them as the most environmentally friendly. The interviews also identified the LDPE bags as the most transportation convenient and they were together with the single-use bags the most cost effective options. The study conclude that the most environmentally friendly option is the carrier bag that gets reused plenty of times throughout its lifespan and that the secondary value of the products may lower the GWP values together with proper disposal and end-of-life approach from the nations.
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