As the pressure mounts on UK manufacturers to cut carbon emissions, reduce the amount of resources they use, and to become more eco-friendly, there is growing demand for sustainable packaging materials that are both cost-effective and kind on the environment.
No longer a simple choice between plastic carrier bags and paper carrier bags, businesses now have to consider what energy is used to make the bags, such as wind power, solar power, and nuclear energy, how far the bags are going to be transported, and how significant the carbon footprint is going to be. Only then can one understand the impact those carrier bags are going to have on the environment, and how sustainable they really are.
Of course, consumers do not have access to this kind of information, but there are several words we can look out for, such as degradable, biodegradable, and compostable, to give us a better understanding of the type of carrier bags we are using.
Degradable plastic carrier bags contain additives that help them to break down when exposed to direct sunlight. The average amount of time it takes for a degradable carrier bag to break down depends on the temperature, but many suggest it takes approximately 2 years. While these bags fall apart, they do not completely disappear and can leave environmentally harmful particles behind.
Manufactured in much the same way, Biodegradable carrier bags contain additives that assist the polythene to degrade when exposed to heat and/or light. Bio organisms found in soil can also initiate the degradation process, so these bags can break down in approximately 18-months once they reach the landfill.
Compostable carrier bags are governed by the EN 13432 regulation, and must be made of materials that will break down within 3 months, and have no polythene content. Made from organic materials such as cornstarch, these bags are designed to dissolve naturally into the soil and, therefore, may not be suitable for long-term use.
If you would like any more information about the degradation process or want to speak with one of our sales team please call 01234 675101 or fill in the contact form at the top of this page.