Richmond-upon-Thames is Going Plastic-Free

Kew goes plastic-bag-freeRichmond traders and residents are campaigning to end the use of plastic bags for shopping in the borough.

You Can Help

• Get a reusable shopping bag - you can buy one of the Greener Kew ones from a local trader if you need one
• Express your support for the campaign to local traders
• Encourage traders who haven't pledged yet to take part

You can share your comments and ideas here on this blog - Keep it clean if not Green!

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Friday, 18 April 2008

Recyclable, Recycled, Degradable, Biodegradable, Compostable

As the green idea is gathering momentum, plenty of companies try to look "green" without really changing a thing. Where plastic carrier bags are concerned, you can find all sorts of claims on them to lure you into thinking that your supermarket is doing something - it's most likely to be very little if anything at all.

Some bags read RECYCLABLE. Hah! Nearly everything is recyclable, but it needs to be collected, it needs to be clean, it needs to be sorted and so on. Plastic bags are, of course, theoretically recyclable but unfortunately 99% of them are not being recycled. So much for that.

Then, some bags contain RECYCLED plastic, varying from "contains a proportion of recycled material", to 20% or 33%, perhaps more. That is a step in the right direction, but the problems of plastic bags littering our environment and clogging our landfill sites remain.

Some plastic bags (the co-op uses them now, except, of course the co-op in plastic-bag-free Modbury), are DEGRADABLE. These are still petroleum based, see below, but will degrade in about three years or so. That's certainly better than floating about for 500 years! Again, a step, but not enough.

I think that if we have to use disposable bags at all, they ought to be BIODEGRADABLE / COMPOSTABLE. This means that they decompose into natural matter in a matter of months, some might need longer on a domestic compost heap. Corn starch bags fit the bill as well as unbleached paper bags.

There is lots more bag info to be found on the Modbury website.

1 comment:

  1. this is a great explanation, thanks Ulle!

    Of course the ideal situation is that we use a 'Bag for life'. Although cornstarch degrades it is still very wasteful to make disposable bags like that. In general, if we want to protect the environment and be more careful with resources, it will be important to reduce use of disposable items in all areas of life.


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