Jute is a sturdy, fibrous plant fiber that’s found in traditional materials like a rope. When it comes to jute vs plastic, jute has emerged as a strong challenger to plastic when it comes to sustainable materials. Where jute can be inexpensive, biodegradable, and bio-renewable, plastic is none of those things. Plastics are made from petroleum-based materials, and as the world’s dependency on fossil fuels grows, so does the high demand for these petrochemicals. So what is the solution to the plastics problem?
How Did Plastics Come To Be Extensively Used?
Plastic started to be mass-produced after World War II, and then again in the 1960s and 1970s when people wanted to use plastics instead of other materials since they are cheap, easy to clean, and can be made into many different shapes.
Jute bags typically cost more than plastic bags because they are produced from organic materials. As such, PP-type fabric was used to make other packaging materials. People like the fabric because it costs less. And that much is fine in the business world. The problem is that the plastic isn’t easy to break up or break down. So, it takes a long time for the bags to rot.
They are a big hazard to the environment because of this. Many of these bags can be found floating in lakes and oceans, suffocating aquatic life. Some animals that live in water, like jellyfish, eat them and die as a result.
Many governments have seen that plastics are a threat and have started to set up policies and procedures to deal with them. Lucky for us, Jute bags are a good alternative to plastic bags and have many advantages over them.
What Are the Benefits of Using Jute Over Plastic?
Two decades from now, plastic production and burning are expected to release 56 gigatons of carbon. This amount is equal to 10 to 13% of the rest of the carbon budget. Also, once plastic is left in the environment, it gives off toxic chemicals like volatile organic chemicals, polycyclic organic matter, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide.
But at the other hand, jute takes in carbon dioxide, which is one of the main greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. Studies show that in one season, one hectare of jute plants can take in up to 15 metric tonnes of CO2 and release about 11 tonnes of oxygen. This lowers the amount of CO2 in the air.
Plastic doesn’t break down and is a threat to life itself. It can take up to 500 years to go away from the environment and breaks down into tiny pieces (microplastics) that still carry chemicals from factories. Also, making plastic takes a lot of natural resources, and since it is only good for one use, more plastic needs to be made.
On the other hand, jute needs less water to grow than most crops. Using crop rotation techniques can make the soil where it grows more fertile. Also, because jute is a natural fiber, it completely breaks down in a few weeks or months. It’s also a strong and durable material which can be used more than once, and it doesn’t have any toxic parts that could get into what’s inside.
What Are the Long-term Benefits of Replacing Plastic With Jute?
Another thing to think about is that making more jute as a replacement for plastic could help meet five of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.
- Help end poverty because more farmers from developing countries where jute grows might very well benefit, which could raise their incomes and make their lives better.
- Ensure that everyone has a healthy life and works to improve their well-being at all ages;
- Make sure that production and trade models are sustainable because using jute could reduce the use of resources, the degradation of resources, and pollution, which would improve the quality of life.
- Start taking steps right away to stop climate change and its impact;
- Save the oceans, seas, and marine life that lives in them. Plastic pollution in the ocean causes sudden changes in where and how many marine animals live. Reducing this pollution could save millions of marine animals, like sea turtles and whales, from going extinct.
Jute Bags vs Plastic Bags
- Plastic bags take thousands of years to break down, while jute bags break down in just a few weeks. This means that plastic bags litter the environment for a much longer time.
- Jute bags last longer than plastic bags because they can be used more than once, are strong, and look good for longer. On the other hand, polybags and plastic bags don’t last as long and lose their shine sooner. Because plastic lasts less long, more of it ends up in landfills, which is bad for the environment and the health of living things.
- Plastic bags are indeed very popular with both buyers and sellers because they are light, useful, cheap, and strong, which makes it easy to carry things in them. However, plastic bags can’t be used more than once, and a lot of plastic trash is collected and thrown away, which fills up the land.
- Jute is an inexpensive product that is also easy to find on the market. Jute is a natural fiber that breaks down over time and is very strong. Plastics are made of materials that don’t break down in nature and take 400 years to break down.
- Petroleum is used to make plastic bags, which use up a nonrenewable natural resource. In contrast, making jute bags only need jute that grows naturally. So, to keep our natural resources from running out, jute bags are better for the environment than plastic bags.
The Disadvantages of Plastic Bags
How is plastic harmful to the environment? Plastics might be the most divisive material of the 21st century. It has a lot of great uses that aid us often, but it can also be amongst the most harmful materials on the planet.
Non-renewable Resources Are Often Used To Make Plastics
Even though the first plastics were made from plant fibers, most of the things we make today are based on fossil fuels. Usually, petroleum is used, but natural gas can also be used to make this product. On average, just 4% of the fossil fuels used for transportation end up as raw materials for new plastics goods. The cost of fossil fuels for plastics might reach 20% during the next decade, based on the quantity of resources needed throughout the refining process and predicted demand growth.
Cleaning Plastics To Recycle Them Takes Time
When different kinds of plastic mix together, it makes products that can’t be used. Before recycling facilities can turn old things into new ones, they also need to clean them.
Some products, like a bottle and its lid, are made of different kinds of plastic, which makes them even harder to handle. It’s a problem that makes recycling in some communities at best ineffective and sometimes impossible.
We Can’t Keep Recycling Plastic Forever
Because of how metals are made, they can be recycled many times and turned into many different things. Plastics do not have the same chance. Before it starts to lose its quality and integrity, we can really only repurpose or recover it a certain number of times. This means that we are quite likely to down-cycle, burn, or throw away this product. As we compare jute vs plastic, we can see that one can be easily recycled whereas the other needs a lot of work.
Some plastic items and products can’t be repurposed at all, which makes this disadvantage even worse. Every year, people don’t use more than 93 billion plastic items, which means they end up in our waste streams.
Plastic Takes a Long Time to Break Down
Plastic can take a long amount of time compared to things that are made of living things. A plastic fishing line could take upwards of 600 years to break down completely. Some researchers think that some aspects of this substance might not break down at all, leaving behind nano plastics that could affect the health of humans, animals, and marine life in many ways.
Even just the plastic bags (for e.g plastic gunny bags) we use every day to carry things can take over a decade to break down on their own, and some can take up to 1,000 years. You may have to wait 450 years for your plastic water bottle to decompose.
Most of the Trash in the World’s Oceans Is Made of Plastic
Around 80% of all trash in the ocean is made of plastic. Often gathered in big open sea regions where currents come together, this issue originates from both terrestrial and marine sources. Because of this problem, not only do we find trash on beaches, on land, but even in sources of freshwater. A few of the most common objects strewn include plastic straws, bottles, stirrers, and lids.
Plastic pollution in ocean surface water costs $5 per kilogram to clean up, but the item can only be used again for $0.30. That’s why non-profit groups are in charge of cleaning up marine areas.
Effects of Jute on the Environment
Besides being useful in many ways, jute’s environmental impact remains positive in many ways. Compared to cotton, the plant doesn’t need as much fertilizer or pesticide as cotton does, which is better for the environment. Also, the jute plant grows back every year and the leaves and roots that fall off improve soil quality and make it more fertile.
It’s easy to make jute fabric, and the process is easier for the environment than making many synthetic materials. In general, glass and mineral fibers leave a much bigger carbon footprint than natural fibers like jute, hemp, and flax. Every component of the jute plant—from seed to outdated fiber—is self-sustaining, making jute a renewable resource.
In many ways, jute is very good for the environment. The jute plant cleans the air by taking in carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. Jute crops have a net carbon dioxide absorption of 15 tons per hectare and an oxygen release of 11 tons per hectare. 6
Because jute fibers are 100 percent biodegradable, products created with them will completely degrade at the end of their life, which appeals to environmentally aware firms.
Each part of the plant is not only used, but it also has health benefits. The jute leaves are full of antioxidants and have calcium, Vitamin C, and iron in them. They have also been used in ayurvedic medicine.
Can Jute Replace Plastic In The Future
Jute comes from India and Bangladesh, which are both in South East Asia. The weather in these countries makes it possible for jute to grow all year, and it’s not too hard to make.
Jute is thought to be amongst the most affordably priced natural fibers because it can be used in so many ways and is made in such large quantities. Because of its benefits, this organic material has become very important in the last few years: It doesn’t need a lot of space to grow, is biodegradable, can be grown for a long time, and doesn’t cost much to make.
Jute vs Plastic: Final Thoughts
With so many projects going on around the world, it is our responsibility as responsible human beings to help make the world a better place. When it comes to jute vs. plastic, utilizing jute may not be the instant magic solution, but this will help decrease the use of plastic much more. A plastic-free future can only be achieved by a steady stream of efforts like these. The environment will definitely benefit if we all switch to jute bags.