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Biodegradables: Answer to Bag Ban?

Posted May 13, 2007 6:00 AM

Trendsetters say plastic bags are out this season and likely longer. With several cities worldwide adopting bans of petroleum-based plastic bags, including San Francisco's recent ban approval, what's a polyethylene processor and a tote-carrying shopper to do?

According to Modern Plastics Worldwide, biodegradable plastic bags may be the answer to the ban and to the "paper or plastic" question. Research has already shown the potential of hydrolysis to break down biodegradable polyurethane in ocean water. But if we eliminate this plastic staple of commerce, could it have any possible negative effect?

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#1

Re: Biodegradables: Answer to Bag Ban?

05/13/2007 11:44 AM

All I know is I greatly dislike paper. I wonder how shoppers have managed in the past.

Paper not only is weak, but it tears easily. Its rigidity consumes a lot of empty space too. Long live polymer bags.

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: Biodegradables: Answer to Bag Ban?

05/13/2007 11:23 PM

The stores need to buy a better quality paper bag. Some stores seem to buy the cheepest paper bags they can find,and yes they tear easily. What I don't like is the bag person putting my loaf of bread in a plastic bag. By the time I get to the parking lot the bread is squished. Paper bags are usefull for recycling stuff like other paper and cardboard. All plastic bags are good for is picking up doggy doo when in public places, and the smaller ones from the produce department are better. Blind people are required to pick up after their dogs.

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#3
In reply to #2

Re: Biodegradables: Answer to Bag Ban?

05/14/2007 1:42 AM

Take your own all natural cotton bags with you to shop. You buy a few that will last you all your life. They naturally tie up carbon in their fibers C7 H10 03 I think or 55% carbon. I you buy it from no till farms it even sequester more carbon than other cotton. It will sure turn over less carbon then paper or plastic bags and won't take up dump space or need recycling.


Gordon

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#6
In reply to #3

Re: Biodegradables: Answer to Bag Ban?

05/14/2007 10:56 AM

This is the right answer. The way to address the issue of shopping bags filling up landfills is to use non-disposable bags. There is no advantage to using paper or other biodegradable material for bags unless you dispose of them into a composter instead of the landfill, since landfills are designed to minimize biodegradation. (As a matter of fact, paper bags would be worse than plastic in the landfill, because they take up more volume.) I applaud those who have and use their own reusable grocery bags, or even plastic totes instead of bags at all. As for myself, I know that I would forget to bring the things even if I did own them. Also, what would I use for garbage can liners around the house?

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#7
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Re: Biodegradables: Answer to Bag Ban?

05/14/2007 11:44 AM

They are also good for insulation stuffing in gaps like next to window air conditioners. Also, I throw out my fruit waste in them since I don't have space to compost.

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#8
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Re: Biodegradables: Answer to Bag Ban?

05/14/2007 1:40 PM

Plastic grocery bags also make good stuffing for packing parcels. I suppose paper would work, but it just doesn't squish as well. Even if you don't have the opportunity to take advantage of any of these potential reuse ideas, there are a number of places where plastic bags can be taken for recycle (e.g. blue box program, recycle depots, or even back at the store from which they were first obtained). I just don't see any incentive for going back to paper bags.

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#9
In reply to #1

Re: Biodegradables: Answer to Bag Ban?

05/14/2007 1:44 PM

.........long live polymer bags.

Yep, about a gazzilion years I think.

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#4

Re: Biodegradable: Answer to Bag Ban?

05/14/2007 6:14 AM

Strangely, one of the largest UK supermarket chains has recently stopped using biodegradable plastic bags & reverted to the standard plastic carriers. I don't know what prompted their decision.

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#5

Re: Biodegradables: Answer to Bag Ban?

05/14/2007 8:36 AM

Even in the commercial fishing industry, there is now a slow moving trend for bios.

Cotton netting as well as cotton twine is required in some states for stationary nets and trot lines (catfish lines).

Some open water crab pots are requried to have cottom panels so if the trap is lost it will not continue to kill crabs or fish.

Polyethylene is now becoming the choice of netting material worldwide. the molecularly alligned High Density PE such as Dyneema and Spectra are in wide use as it is so strong that nets can be made with much smaller diameter (less drag, better fuel savings and better opening (net geometry of the Fishing Circle).

There is a concern that this material, when lost on a snag , continues to 'live on' for decades. However, as marine life grabs hold of it , it can actually help form a structure for reefs. The problem is that it can also continue to ensnare fish for years before this "reef building" is complete.

HDPE could be used to form sand barriers and silt barrier along the coast to stave off coastal erosion. On the other hand , the worldwide use of poly bags and such creates such a massive trash pile. In parts of SE Asia where I have been, trash bags are so overwhelming they seem to form land masses of their own.

One thing I DO KNOW, if any poly type material does not have either a UV inhibitor or carbon black in its make up, it will deteriorate in sunlight rather quickly.

Stop the BLACK color and go with a yellow or white color.

What happens to the chemical makeup when it does break up is unknown to me but I am assuming it probably isn't a good thing to have all of this poly dust wafting around in the wind.

In general, i would say go with cotton bags for shopping and some form of cotton with a waxed inner surface ( to hold liquids) for garbage bags in the household.

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#10

Re: Biodegradables: Answer to Bag Ban?

05/14/2007 4:21 PM

We've been using cloth bags for years, and our market gives a 5 cent discount for each one. You can probably fit at least 3 times as much in a similar-sized cloth bag too. I too need a plastic bag once in awhile for trash cans or the cat's litter box, but I'm never at a loss for having a plastic bag around. For our main garbage, we use bags that are made from recycled plastic bags. Part of the proceeds to go local schools.

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