Are cotton or paper bags really better than plastic?

If you use cotton bags when you go shopping you probably think you're doing the world a favour.

But if you use it once or twice, stick it in the cupboard then buy a new one, it may be just as bad as using a conventional plastic bag - or worse.

Many Kiwis have called for action on single-use plastic bags. Supermarkets have taken heed and pledged to ban the bag at Countdown and New World stores by the end of next year. 

Other countries, such as Kenya, have banned plastic bags altogether. In the United Kingdom and Ireland, levies have seen plastic bag use plummet by over 80 per cent.

But the effect on demand for alternatives is largely unknown. What is known is that all bags, from plastic to paper to polypropylene, are made differently, and how they are made has an environmental impact.

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Last updated 05:00, December 1 2017

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