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Friday, August 7, 2020
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Which Is Better for Bagging Groceries: Paper or Plastic?

While bringing your own bag is the most environmentally friendly option for grocery shoppers, you are bound to forget every once in a while. In those instances, you'll probably face the question of choosing between a paper and plastic bag. But which one provides the most energy savings? Plastic bags have a negative stigma attached to them - plastic bags are even banned or restricted in San Francisco and numerous other cities, as well as retail giants IKEA and Whole Foods, often in favor of paper bags. As it turns out, neither is a sustainable option, but plastic bags require much less material to be made and are easier to recycle than paper. Understanding the paper vs. plastic debate requires examining the full lifecycle of each bag, and the cost to recycle each product. Let's examine the process of creating both paper and plastic bags.

Paper bags not so earth friendly

Paper, of course, comes from trees. According to, about 4 billion trees around the world are used to make paper. Deforestation raises greenhouse gas levels and damages natural ecosystems. On a very basic level, these chopped trees are transported by trucks or helicopters to factories, and eventually processed by heavy machinery and mixed with chemicals. The process requires large quantities of water and, according to NBC News, emits 70% more air pollution than creating plastic bags.

Production isn't the only place where paper causes environmental harm. According to Oregon Live, the process of recycling paper can be so inefficient it consumes more fuel than it would take to make a new bag. In order to recycle paper, it must be returned to pulp by adding chemicals to bleach and disperse the fibers. In order to ensure the strength of bags, most recycled bags are made of mostly virgin wood pulp. So most likely your recycled bag doesn't become another bag; at best it becomes corrugated cardboard.

The lesser of two evils

Plastic is a product of oil refining. The bags are made when small pellets of polyethylene (the most common plastic) are heated, stretched and cut into bag shape. Plastic bag production creates 50 times less water pollution than paper bags. And while plastic requires less energy to recycle than paper, bags need to be taken to specific bag recycling stations, which can be inconvenient if you can't locate one nearby. The process is so cost ineffective that many of the bags collected are never recycled. According to the Washington Post, many are shipped to foreign countries with lax environmental laws and incinerated.

However, plastic bags have a bad reputation for a reason. These light, thin bags are often viewed as expendable and tossed as litter, which can threaten local wildlife that become entrapped in the plastic or mistake it for food. According to the Washington Post, an estimated 4 billion bags end up as litter each year.

Reuse is the best option

Ultimately, plastic is the better of two bad options. Paper and plastic both have significant carbon and landfill footprints and threaten local ecosystems. The best course of action is to use and reuse your own shopping bag or shopping crate. These reusable items require more material to make than plastic or paper, so it's important to place them somewhere where you won't forget them next time you head to the grocery - or do any shopping. Every time you can avoid getting a new plastic or paper bag is a positive contribution toward increasing your energy savings and lowering your carbon footprint.

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Permit Requirements

What to expect when a permit is required:

i. Call your city/county to obtain a permit

ii. The city/county will send someone to your residence for an inspection and permit approval

iii. Once the permit approval is complete, Just Energy will receive notification directly from the city/county and your enrollment will be processed

iv. Thereafter, you will receive a welcome package confirming your enrollment and service activation date

1. What is a Permit?

Many cities, towns and counties require that an inspection of your property is completed prior to allowing your utility to provide requested services. This may also be called a Certificate of Occupancy or Permit.

2. Why do I need a permit?

Many cities and counties require a permit or an approval to receive electric service to ensure the safety of the individual and his/her family who are moving into the premise.

3. How do I obtain a permit?

Contact the city or county to obtain a permit, click here for the full list of cities.

4. How long will Just Energy hold my enrollment while I work with the City on my permit?

The utility will hold your enrollment order for 20 calendar days, from the date it was received. If you are unable to obtain a permit within this time period, call Just Energy at 1-866-587-8674.

5. Do I have to take any action after inspection is complete and permit is approved?

No. Your utility will confirm to Just Energy directly and we will be able to process your enrollment. There is no action required from your end.

6. How does Just Energy inform me that my permit or approval is received and the service will be connected?

After we have received confirmation from your utility that required paperwork is submitted, we will process your enrollment. You will receive a welcome package from us when your enrollment order has been completed.

7. I need more information on how my city will work with me on the permit process?

Contact the city or county to obtain a permit, click here for the full list of cities.

Switch Hold

1. What is a switch hold and why do I have it on my account?

A Switch Hold is placed either by the utility or the current provider on the service location. This may prevent services to be switched away to a new provider or it may prevent services to be turned on for the new occupant unless the occupant moving in demonstrates adequate evidence as requested by the utility.

There are a couple of reasons why a switch-hold may be placed on your account:
  1. The first reason may be that you have entered into a Deferred Payment Plan with your current provider to pay a past due amount and the current provider has placed the switch-hold on your account until your obligation has been met. The Deferred Payment Plan allows you time to pay the debt owed to the current provider and helps ensure that the debt commitment is met.

  2. The second reason that a switch-hold may be placed on your account is that the utility has determined that meter tampering has occurred at your location. Tampering with the TDU’s meter to benefit from unbilled electricity or service is against the law.

2. What should I do when I have a Switch Hold on my account?

If you have been residing in that location, please contact your current service provider to resolve this issue.

If you are a new resident at this location, you will need to provide some additional information in order for us to process your request for electric service.

Please see below for these requirements:

  1. Fill out the new occupancy statement (NOS) form (link)
  2. Provide one of the below supporting documents:
    • Copy of signed lease;
    • Notarized affidavit of landlord;
    • Closing documents of the property owned;
    • Certificate of occupancy; or
    • Utility bill in Customer’s name dated within last two months from a different premise.

Send the above documents through one of the methods mentioned below:

  1. Email:
  2. Fax: 1-888-548-7690

3. How long will it take to remove the Switch Hold?
  • Once the documents are received and verified, we will then submit a Switch Hold removal request to the utility for your service area.
  • If we receive the form and the supporting documents within 2 PM on a business day, the result for approval or rejection of Switch Hold removal will be provided the same day by the Utility. If the documentation received after 2 PM, result will be provided the next business day.
  • If Switch Hold is removed by 5 PM on the day documentation is submitted, your enrollment order will be submitted to the Utility the same day provided it's a smart meter. If it’s an analog meter, then allow 48 business hours for the enrollment order to be processed.
  • We will notify via email you if Switch Hold removal is denied, please communicate with the current electricity provider to determine how the switch hold can be removed

4. How will I know if Switch Hold was removed and my service will be connected?

You will receive a confirmation email from us that your request has been completed.

Meter not available at your service address

1. Why isn't there a meter at this service location?

There could be many reasons why meter is not available. Here are the most common reasons for meter not available at your property:

  • Meter has been tampered with or removed
  • You changed from analog to smart meter
  • Or your meter has been stolen

2. What should I do?

Call the utility using the number mentioned below and let them know that your enrollment is on hold because the meter is not available.

Centerpoint Energy: 713.207.2222

There can be two outcomes when you contact your Utility:

  • Utility will provide you a unique number which is called ESI id
  • Reactivate your location identifier (ESI)

3. How long will it take to install the new meter?

It could take anywhere between 3 to 10 business days to work these requests. However, your utility can confirm your exact timelines.

4. How does Just Energy inform me that this issue has been resolved?

You will receive welcome package from us when your enrollment order has been completed.


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