Polythene UK, the largest broker of polythene film and bags in the UK, is offering free compostable checkout bags to visitors to the easyFairs ECOPACK show next February to help promote the product launch and ultimately persuade consumers, supermarket buyers, and government members to switch to a ‘greener’ option.
The award-winning firm based in Witney, Oxfordshire, is the first company in the UK to stock 100% compostable checkout bags known as ‘Polycomp’ bags.
Already the product has attracted much interest; including a visit from David Cameron this November who was keen to discuss the potential of the checkout bags further with Polythene UK’s Managing Director James Woollard.
James commented: "I figure that as checkout bags are something we all use and as we are all about to start having to buy rolls of compostable bags – due to changes in the way our food is being recycled – then why not make one bag that does both jobs? That way consumers will be able to buy their compostable bags at the checkout for the same price as they would spend on the rolls of bags, use them to take their shopping home, then reuse them in their green bins, so their food waste can go for anaerobic digestion or other composting methods."
The biopolymers used in Polythene UK’s ‘Polycomp compostable checkout bags’ consist mainly of starch and biodegrade fully within just 10 days. The bags are certified as fully biodegradable and compostable according to the European norm EN13432, which has been set up to regulate products which are disposed of in composting sites. Biodegradation within Polythene UK’s checkout bags takes place as soon as mirco organisations are present. The process is accelerated even further when temperature is increased, like for example during the summer season, where the bugs are more active in the garden and therefore can help make the bags degrade even quicker.
James explained: "The biopolymer used in our checkout bags totally transforms into biomass with CO2 + H2O or CH4 within just a few days in a composting site, meaning they will biodegrade and will not fill landfills. You would use them as you would normal checkout bags, but as these can be used in all home compost operations, instead of creating a visible litter you are returning them back to nature."
We are all aware of the negative images that supermarket packaging often creates for itself. For example only recently Sainsbury’s attracted much media attention when the news broke that they were being taken to court for using too much packaging (the first time that a major retailer had been prosecuted under obscure environmental laws). The supermarket packaging debate is constantly on the agenda for all those involved, not least consumers and members of parliament.
James commented: "Packaging is such an obvious target when it comes to green issues, because it’s so symbolic of our wasteful society. It’s very difficult as a consumer to understand about the whole supply chain issue. The major supermarkets have been very successful in reducing the volumes of packaging – certainly Sainsbury’s, which has also led the way in using compostable alternatives for some of its own label lines. I believe we (Polythene UK) have a huge role to play also in educating consumers, supermarkets, and our government in the benefits of compostable packaging, and in particular compostable checkout bags."
He concluded: "Although compostable checkout bags are already being successfully used in places like Belgium, UK supermarkets are currently resisting the idea due to the additional cost. However I am confident that one of the major chains will be forward thinking enough to offer the first truly environment solution to the UK’s plastic bag problem. And with the drive of both consumer and government support I am certain that the switch to this ‘greener’ option is not too far down the line."