Plastic carrier bags may make the headlines for all the wrong reasons, but those campaigning against the humble shopping bag seem to forget that it is a highly practical and convenient packaging solution.
Making up less than 1% of landfill waste, and using less resources to make than the cotton and paper alternatives, printed plastic carrier bags do not need to have a negative impact on the environment, it is simply down to both manufacturers and consumers to make better choices.
How can manufacturers make printed plastic carrier bags more environmentally friendly?
Plastic bags are not generally recyclable, so a great place to start is by using biodegradable additives such as Biothene, which helps the polythene degrade under the influence of heat and light, or through bio organisms found in the soil of the landfill. Plastic carrier bags made with such additives break down in approximately 18-months to 2-years.
How can we reduce the demand for plastic carrier bags?
Many of the lightweight plastic carrier bags handed out in supermarkets today are only suitable for one use, hence the term ‘single use carrier bags.’ If retailers offer the consumer only high quality, strong carrier bags that they can reuse, the demand for ‘single use’ bags will ultimately decrease.
What can consumers do to reduce their plastic bag waste?
By implementing the three ‘Rs’ of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle into our daily lives we can reduce the negative impact we have on the environment. Plastic carrier bags can only have a detrimental effect on marine life and the great British countryside if we do not dispose of them responsibly.
Is a Carrier Bag Tax the way forward?
Since the introduction of the controversial plastic carrier bag tax in Wales, many retailers have reported a sharp decrease in demand, but ultimately, if we do not dispose of our carrier bags correctly, the fact that we paid for them or not becomes insignificant.
Plastic carrier bags remain the most popular packaging solution for our weekly shop, and if both manufactures and consumers do their bit, we can make them a whole lot greener.