Launch of new compostable checkout bag

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Yeah! Right! Compostable is a very stretchy word, much like recycled and we will tackle the latter at another time.

A company in Oxfordshire is the first in the UK to offer a 100% compostable checkout bag.David Cameron visits Polythene UKPolythene UK has produced the Polycomp bag, which contains biopolymers made up of starch and according to the company they biodegrade fully within just 10 days, as soon as mirco-organisms are present.

The process is accelerated even further when temperature is increased, for example during the summer season, where the bugs are more active in the garden.

The bags are certified as fully biodegradable and compostable according to the European norm EN13432, which was set up to regulate products which are disposed of in composting sites and maybe that should give us the real hint here; the term “ products which are disposed of in composting sites.”

Polythene UK's managing director James Woollard said: “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 company, based in Witney, were boosted a visit from David Cameron in November, who discussed the potential of the checkout bags further with James Woollard.

Mr Woollard hopes to persuade consumers, supermarket buyers, and government members to switch to a 'greener' option.

He said: “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.”

The checkout bags will be on display at the easyFairs ECOPACK show in February 2010 at Birmingham's NEC.

From the term that I highlighted earlier, namely “products which are disposed of in composting sites” I would gather that this bag may be called “compostable” and may be thus but not within 10 days in your compost heap in the back garden. Absolutely no chance.

We have been there with the bio-plast (also from corn starch) bags for the kitchen caddies. They took in tests – my own ones – up to 2 years to compost in a domestic composter.

Why, pray, do we need to have still plastic bag when reusable cotton, jute, etc., bags can be had at a reasonable price or which anyone with a little sewing machine skill can make?

When our mothers and grandmothers went shopping or sent us to the shops as kids it was with a reusable shopping bag of a variety of materials, and this is not so long ago. This should be the way to which we should, nay must, return.

© 2010