Paper or Plastic bags

This is an environmental science subject
Assignment, Part 1:
You will be doing a modified Life Cycle Assessment of paper shopping bags vs. plastic shopping bags. You get to finally answer the question of this course: Paper or Plastic?
Please read the documentation provided in the Content section about Life Cycle Assessments (LCA) prior to doing the assignment.
A full LCA of paper bags vs. plastic shows that plastic is favorable over paper. Your task is to demonstrate why this is true.
You should organize, and clearly label, your analysis as follows:
1. Extraction and processing of raw materials that go into each type of bag.
2. Manufacturing of paper bags and plastic bags.
3. Transportation and distribution of each type of bag.
4. Useful life, reuse, and recycling of each type of bag.
5. Disposal and end of life for each type of bag.
At the end of your analysis, you should be able to demonstrate why plastic bags make the most sense from a cradle-to-grave argument. Please use the specific categories in 1-5 to organize so that I can follow your answers clearly. Once you have done 1-5, provide a wrap-up to summarize. Overall, this should not be longer than 3-4 pages. You must write in complete sentences and use paragraph form. Bullet point lists will not be accepted.
You must find three additional references beyond what I am giving you.
The website below is an overview of the process to look at an LCA for paper bags vs. plastic bags. It is not very detailed, but should help give you an example of how to begin thinking about the process.
http://techalive.mtu.edu/meec/module14/title.htm
You may also want to view the following TED talk:

(Note that I’m not looking for you to bypass the argument and suggest that reusable bags are better than both, so please do not frame your arguments in this manner. This is designed to be a life-cycle assessment analysis to learn how to compare two different consumer products, not to choose an alternative.)
Your three additional references must be documented appropriately. Please use whatever citation format that is appropriate for your major. For example, some majors use MLA format. Chemists use the American Chemical Society format. If you are in doubt, use MLA. There is ample information about how to cite references online. I do NOT want to see Wikipedia references as your three major references. Yes, it is useful for basic information, but it is not fully reliable for content nor is it comprehensive.
All ideas that are not your own must be cited within the body of the text when they are used in addition to being cited in a bibliography. Paraphrasing someone else’s text is not just substituting one word for another. You must take the idea (cited properly, of course) and put it into your own words.
Assignment, Part 2:
We have just done an LCA that demonstrates favorability of plastic shopping bags over paper. This tends to really bother the students in this class, so I have added a second part to the assignment to allow you to discuss some of the issues raised by the LCA and your readings. You will be writing a reflection paper addressing the LCA and other plastic related topics.
I don’t want this to be a huge task, so please keep it to 1-2 pages max. What will I be looking for?
1. A more sophisticated knowledge of the topics discussed than the average consumer.
2. Why should we have considerations beyond a life cycle assessment to ban plastic
bags, as some communities have done recently?
a. Do you have suggestions about how an LCA should address the “end of life”
portion of plastics? Do you agree with having each section of the LCA
weighted equally?
3. Any changes in how you are viewing your use of plastics after taking this class vs.
how you would have viewed it before. I’m interested in hearing about how your thinking has changed based on what you have learned and how you plan to move forward in your ability to be an informed citizen of the world.
You must be careful of plagiarism when writing. Remember, if you can find it on the internet, so can I!
You will be submitting your papers through the Safe-Assign function on Blackboard when you post your assignment. This function is capable of detecting plagiarism, whether it comes from improper use of materials you

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find in your references, incomplete paraphrasing, or copying papers directly from others who have written similar one.
All ideas that are not your own must be cited within the body of the text when they are used in addition to being cited in a bibliography. Paraphrasing someone else’s text is not just substituting one word for another. You must take the idea (cited properly, of course) and put it into your own words.
If you have questions about what might get you into trouble, please ask before you submit something.

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