How to lose the plastic from your bags for life

The backlash against plastic seems to have geared up a notch in 2018, and rightly so. Online eco-guide ‘One Green planet’ published its 20 Switches to Get Plastic Out of Your Life, and in the top spot? ‘Use a canvas grocery bag or a jute bag for life’. And yet even some of these contain linings made of plastic. So, are there ways to offer customers a bag for life that’s 100% plastic free? Here’s a guide on How to lose the plastic from your bags.

Customers are consuming less and sick of waste!

It’s predicted that 2018 will see an ever growing consumer fascination with providence and traceability. There’s a demand for systemic change right across the board, both from brands and the government.

Retail Expert Eve Reid ‘Customers are consuming less and they’re sick of waste! 2018 is seeing a huge wave of customers looking for slightly better quality and more buying justification based on product ‘roots’ and ‘value’. We are seeing customers interrogating brands online and scanning products in supermarkets to check on the ethical policy of brands.

It’s time for brand and businesses to decide which side they want to be on.

The levy on supermarkets and other large retailers, has already resulted in a 90% decline in plastic carrier bag use. That’s more than nine billion fewer plastic carriers bags being handed out each year. Theresa May has promised to consult on the removal of a current exemption allowing retailers with fewer than 250 employees to continue to give out free bags.

Blog after blog is being written about how we can phase plastic out of our lives completely.

What’s in a bag?

We are sometimes asked if our bags are recyclable. It’s a strange question that prompted us to write Why asking if jute bags are recyclable is the wrong question. Why would you want to recycle bags for life? They’re specifically designed to be re-used, so that they don’t have to be recycled.

Material bags in all their many guises, are the obvious choice for a re-usable, eco-friendly and sustainable alternative to plastic carriers. Traditionally, in order to make these material shoppers functional for food and drink retailers, especially grocery shops, bags for life are lined on the inside with a laminate plastic that makes them wipeable and robust. It’s a necessary evil that enables customers to carry fresh goods and messy substances, without ruining the bag completely. If you’ve never noticed this lining before, feel the inside of your bag next time you take it shopping.

There are two commonly used types of lamination that we offer at WBC Bags for Life. Polypropylene (PP) which is usually around 80 grams on natural jute and 70 grams on dyed jute. LDPE would usually be 120g on natural jute and 100 grams on dyed jute. And a lighter type called Low Density polypropylene (LDPE) polypropylene. 

LDPE is widely recognised as the most environmentally responsible type and the difference can be recognised quite easily by feel. Of course is more expensive – always seems tragic that some of the most environmentally friendly processes are often pricier? If you’re grocery or food and drink retailer, choose LDPE where you have to. Bearing in mind that there would obviously be no point using the more expensive LDPE on bags that have a window as the plastic windows are made from PP anyway. 

Can you lose the plastic liner completely?

Yes you can. And it’s a good question to ask yourself. If you are a retailer and your customers transport dry goods unlined bags may work for you. Maybe you’re a garden centre or clothes retailer – or even some wine retailers, there’s less necessity for you to line the inner sides of your bags for life. If you are reviewing your range for Summer 2018, why not consider removing the plastic content in your bags altogether? Softened jute, stiffened jute, cotton, canvas and recycled canvas are all unlined and so 100% plastic free.

You can lose the plastic labelling too..

There are many ways to reduce the way plastic is used in labelling and packaging. Swing tags are traditionally attached using kimble guns with very thin plastic tags. Being so small, these often end up in our streets, rivers and oceans. It causes significant damage to wildlife. You can easily move to jute twine tied swing tags, the up-cost is minimal but the impact widespread.

Plus, au’natural lis totally on trend too!


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