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But most of us only use the bags around 51 times before they are thrown away, researchers found.
Paper bags - used by some clothes chains such as Primark - need to be used three times to fall below the environmental impact of the thin plastic carrier, while bags for life - made of stronger plastic - have to be used four times to start having less ecological impact.
Recycling helped recovery of 64.7 MT of MSW as stated in the EPA fact sheet (p. Besides recovery, 32.7 MT (or 13% of MSW) were combusted for energy according to EPA (p. Recovery of waste by the type of waste is also tracked by various agencies. There are many ways in which it is recycled according to a 2015 Post-Consumer Food EPA report.
Food waste refers to post-consumer waste from restaurant, grocery, and household food, and excludes preconsumer food from food processing facilities, agricultural operations, or other industrial processes.
The MSW production in 2013 was 254.1 million tons (p. Disposal rates were down from 89% in 1980 to 53% in 2013 (p. The EPA fact sheet and other recycling websites often use the term "recovery" to describe the recycling process, when recovering goods that would otherwise end in landfills.
While statistics for recycling are collected regularly, it often takes time for the most current numbers to be processed and assimilated for public consumption.
'Much of the environmental impact of these bags is associated with the primary resource use and production.
However, the research found that biodegradable bags made of starch were not a greener option than HDPE bags as they are less environmentally friendly to make and heavier.
But, the nation still has a long way to go before it hits a perfect recycling stride.
Something important to know when talking about recycling is Municipal Solid Waste (MSW), better known as trash.
Cotton bags typically made in China have a greater environmental impact because of the water and fertiliser required in their production, as well as their transportation and greater weight.
The researchers concluded: 'The HDPE bag had the lowest environmental impacts of the single use options in nine of the 10 impact categories.