This week, the supermarket chain Morrisons has launched a “paper bag only” trail in eight stores. If successful, the chain will consider removing plastic bags from all stores and will offer paper bags only.
Morrisons started to give their customers the choice between paper and plastic bags earlier this year when they introduced reusable paper bags into their stores at a 20p charge (the same price as a plastic “bag for life”). However, since they have seen little evidence to suggest that the plastic bags are being re-used and therefore, continue to have a negative impact on the environment, they are considering ditching them altogether.
Andy Atkinson, Group Customer and Marketing Director, at Morrisons said: “We are taking another meaningful step that will remove an estimated 1,300 tonnes of plastic out of the environment each year. Our customers have told us that reducing plastic is their number one environmental concern so introducing the paper bag across the nation will provide another way of reducing the plastic in their lives.”
Are paper bags more environmentally friendly?
Paper bags, because of their natural and renewable attributes, present an attractive and practical alternative. Studies show that they can be the natural and environmental alternative to plastic and textile bags.
The raw material for paper bags, wood, is a renewable and sustainable resource. Between 2005 and 2015, European forests grew by an area the size of Switzerland, the equivalent of 1,500 football pitches every day. Additionally, the recycling rate for paper and cardboard packaging in the EU is 85%. Even if a paper bag is irresponsibly discarded, due to its natural compostable characteristics it will have a relatively low impact.
Find out more about why paper bags are a natural choice here.
Are paper bags as strong as plastic bags?
You’d be forgiven for thinking that a paper bag may not be up to the task for carrying the weekly shop, particularly when it is being re-used regularly. But, paper bags can be very robust.
Morrisons, who source the paper for their bags from sustainably managed forests, say they are strong enough to carry up to 16kg, equivalent to 13 bottles of wine or 16 bags of sugar. This is a similar performance to its plastic bag alternative.
Kraft paper, typically used to make paper bags, is specially developed for demanding packaging. Due to its long and strong virgin fibres, it has a high level of mechanical strength. The choice of glue and a proficient construction of the handles add even more to the bag’s strength and durability.