BioPak paper bags

Are paper bags the greenest option?

Are you after a smart and sustainable bag option for your customers? Paper could be a good option, and in this blog we’ll tell you why.

BioPak has just introduced their FSC™ certified Kraft paper bags; not only are they robust, strong, and conducive to easy storage, but they are compostable; both at home or in industrial facilities, as well as kerbside recycling points.

So let’s cut to the chase – just why could paper bags fast become the choice of retailers in Australia?

100 per cent recyclable

Let’s get one thing straight right away. Paper bags are completely recyclable. They do not emit any poisonous or toxic gases in the recycling process, unlike plastic bags do. This might be considered as the main incentive to offer paper bags to your customers. After they are made, paper bags do not contribute to pollution, and before they are recycled, they can be re-used!

Conserve natural resources

Paper bags such as BioPak’s FSC™ certified Kraft variety are recycled. They are made from unbleached brown paper, which saves energy while reducing emissions of greenhouse gasses. This is another reason why paper bags represent an eco-friendly alternative to other options.

Bio-degradable

Because paper bags are biodegradable, you are able to compost them. That means that they will not be hanging around on the earth’s surface for centuries to come! Plastic in the topsoil could have several negative consequences in the future, impacting on marine life, but using biodegradable paper bags negates this problem. Did you know that most paper bags take just a few months to degrade, and are actually a fertile form of waste which can aid vegetation?

Paper saves energy

When we think about why an item is environmentally friendly, its ability to save energy must come into the reckoning. Because paper bags are made from materials which are available locally, slashing the length of the transportation needed can result in saved energy. It’s all good for the planet!

Best of the bunch?

Re-usable bags are generally considered better for the environment, but how many times do you need to use them in order for them to represent a greener option than plastic?

In the UK, the government conducted a fascinating study looking at the life cycle assessment of supermarket carrier bags. In light of supermarkets’ increasing tendency to offer the option of carrier bags as an alternative to disposable plastic bags, the research looked at whether these alternative bags were, in fact, a greener choice for customers.

The government described the background to the study as follows: “In recent years, the relative environmental impacts of lightweight carrier bags and other options has been debated.” It continued: “Leading supermarkets had halved the number of single-use carrier bags used. However, questions still remain about the environmental significance of lightweight carrier bags, especially with regard to the wider debate on global warming.”

The research looked at the following kind of bags; paper bags; conventional lightweight carrier bags; lightweight HDPE carrier with pro-degradant additive; a biopolymer, biodegradable carrier; heavier bags with stiffening non-woven polypropylene inserts; and a cotton bag.

The study took into account the following; the production processes of the bags, the extraction and production details of the raw materials, transportation required to the final destination, what happens at the end of their life (landfill, collection or incineration), and the avoidance of using virgin materials (previously unused raw material).

Key findings

The study pointed out that the production of one plastic bag has a fairly low environmental impact. What does have a bad impact on the environment is the typically high usage of plastic bags. Polypropylene bags were found to be a moderately good alternative. The study calculated that after a polypropylene bag is used 14 times, it is already more environmentally friendly than normal plastic bags. Because of the energy which goes into cotton growing and the production of the bags themselves, cotton bags have a relatively high impact on the environment. It actually requires 173 uses for it to be more environmentally friendly than standard plastic bags. Surprised? We certainly were.

And where does all this leave paper bags? Well, paper bags actually came out of the study looking very well indeed. It was found that you just need to use a paper bag four times or more to make it a greener option than a normal plastic bag.

What does it all mean?

Essentially, the more times a customer uses a bag, the more eco friendly it is. So firstly, the study shows just how important it is for environmentally conscious consumers to look after their bags and take care of them.

The report also acts as a big advocate for paper bags, and so we can expect the BioPak FSC™ certified Kraft paper bags to grow in popularity. Not only are they made from FSC™ certified paper, renewable resources, and are carbon neutral, but five per cent of all the profits which BioPak receive go to their Give Back Program, which donates to organisations such as Rainforest Rescue (Australia) and Greenfleet (New Zealand).

Practically as well as environmentally, paper grocery bags or takeaway bags are proving a winner. They offer a relatively high weight capacity, with even the medium bags being able to carry 5kg, and small bags carrying 4kg. They come flat packed so you can store them easily, and there is even the option of ordering a custom-designed bag which you could add your branding too, giving the bags a marketing function as well as a practical one. You can find that paper bags offer branding more prominence, allowing you to get your logo, messaging, and even social media handles across to consumers in the street. Whether you are an eatery offering takeaway food, a supermarket, or a high street clothes retailer – paper bags can give you a customer-friendly, sensible and environmentally conscious option.

And there are more advantages! Paper shopping bags are typically stronger than plastic alternatives and pose less of a suffocation risk to animals or young children.

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