At this juncture supermarkets have a dilemma. Consumer preference is in transition from expecting a bag to be given to bringing a reusable bag. In reaction to plastics bashing, many chains have committed to discontinuing single use bags by 2025.
In an effort to change consumer behavior, many cities with bag bans require the supermarkets to post signs which admonish the consumer to bring their own bags. The signs stay up and fade long after bans are rescinded.
Some chains are posting signs to give the consumer a gentle nudge.
Others are in a quandary with the advent of the Coronavirus.
No pun intended, but Target is the latest target of petitions although their bag is 100 % recyclable and could be reused many times.
Many municipalities are rethininking bans in light of the cornoavirus outbreak.
Less than 8 months after signing a reusable bag law, Maine rescinded it.
Most American consumers still expect paper or plastic bags to be given. After all, the cost of bags is a rounding error in context of a cart of groceries. The consumer is going to be insulted and angry even if they are charged just one penny per bag. High end retailers can afford to give out expensive paper bags. As the cliche goes, " there is no free lunch".
In Europe, it has been common practice for the consumer to bring their own bag.
They are known as " bags for life" in the UK.
Natural Grocers has struck a balance between offering discarded corrugated boxes and reusable bags for sale.
Despite the apparent groundswell of anti-bag sentiment, de facto consumers do not object to plastic bags. When bag bans are lifted, plastic bags return shortly.
This pic is from a supermarket in Travis County, TX about a year after the Texas Supreme Court declared local bag bans uconstitutional.
Currently we have a patchwork quilt of laws and policies. For example, HEB does not give out bags in the city of Austin even though the bag ban is no more. They only sell the 23 cent bag from Roplast.
Just outside Travis County in Willliamson county they give away single use bags in mass quantities. HEB is a sharp outfit. Grocers travel to Texas to observe their practices. HEB probably figured out they could capitalize on Austin's virtue signalling and make the front end a profit center vis-a-vis a cost.
Plastic bag manufacturers who are tooled up for single use bags are not making major design changes because they are in too deep with extant tooling.
Click image for a larger image.
They put messages on the bags which encourage recycling and cite arcane offical sounding standards.
Click the image for a larger view of the standards.
The ordinances are usually modelled after the original Los Angeles county regulation. There is usually a requirement that the bag must endure 125 uses, be capable of carrying 23 pounds over 175 feet. Some actually show a little orginality instead of the usualy cut-and-paste LA County reg. For example, the greens who wrote the New York state statute know it is impossible for bag manufacturers to comply. They call out a risible 10 mil minimum thickness. That's about 18 times thicker than a disposable bag. If past is prologue, they will fail just as the teetotallers did ( they were hard line and refused to compromise ).
Recycled content is also a major component. If you click on the link, look for the " legislative bag " tab. To ensure consistency, many extruders are establishing their own closed loop systems.
Whether the majority of consumers are concerned or apathetic about plastic waste is up for grabs. 2 out of 3 bottles made from PET #1, the most valuable, are discarded as litter or landfill. The regulations for plastic bottles is also a bizarre crazy quilt.
Some bag manufacturers are trying to strike a compromise with bags made from agricultural sources. While consumers feel good about plant based plastic, it is not a long term solution.
It is ironic that expensive kraft paper bags become the popular choice ( often double bagged ) when bag bans are enacted. A life cycle analysis ( LCA ) of paper vs. plastic would be a waste of time. It's a rohrschock test all about perception. For another point of view, here is a link to the American Plastic Bag Alliance.
offers something for the shopper, the grocer and the greens
for the shopper:
We hope the convenience and efficiency will win over people who still prefer single use bags.
convenience + efficieny =
Shortest route from grocer's shelf to your shelf.
has a slider zipper which makes it the the only reusable grocery bag which is spillproof
double capacity of " T shirt " bags makes checkout loading twice as fast.
Ditto for loading into the car and carrying into the house.
Each is a random color. No two are exactly alike. Each category ( fresh produce, frozen, refrigerated, canned, etc. ) can be put in it's own colored bag to expedite unloading in your kitchen.
If your store offers " Scan N Go ", set up the bags in your cart and load your way. Avoids the extra step of bagging at the checkout.
In any case, you control the process and save time.
Just as in lean manufacturing - handle the product the least possible number of times.
no more pesky plastic bag buildup !
really is a lifetime bag if you just give it a little TLC. Plastic bag makers don't think in terms of durable performance. They look at it like most packaging - a necessary evil. They cheap it out with a $ 0.23 to $ 0.49 retail bag.
The suggested retail of $ 0.99 splits the difference between the cheap plastic and the more durable plastic or jute bags which start at about $ 1.50.
for the conservationists
Only empowers the consumer to take direct action to stanch the flow of plastic into rivers and oceans.
Five cents ( not a nebulous " percent of profits " ) from each bag goes to Ocean Cleanup
( Note: beta phase testing will start in March, 2020. Once commercial sales start, we will update the amount donated to
Ocean Cleanup every two weeks. )
Let's have a thought experiment and assume some reusing:
a ) one trip to the grocery store weekly
b) 1 bag4life used instead of 2 plastic bags
c) service life of 10 years + with proper care ( see history )
The result is some serious reduction of resources used.
( Of course, this applies to any reusable bag which has twice the capacity of a single-use bag. )
That's 100 plastic bags that don't get produced every year / 1,000 every 10 years.
A case of 1,000 plastic bags weighs 14 pounds. So one BAG4LIFE obviates the need for 14,000 pounds
of plastic to be made over it's life. Every million reusable bags = 14,000 pounds of plastic not made annually.
That's just the plastic; does not include the resources used to extract the monomer, make the polymer,
transport the resin to the bag maker, make the bags and transport to the supermarket.
is a practical compromise. It makes the best use of plastic which is already here, albeit fossil fuel plastic.
80 % repurposed fossil fuel plastic scrap / 100 % recyclable. Chasing arrow symbol #4 for low density polyethylene.
( By the way, we could have just continued to sell our scrap which would have been destined for either trash bags
or plastic lumber. )
We make them in St. Louis, MO and pay a living wage. Most reusable bags are imported from third world countries. The manufacturing process and transport consumes a minimal amount of resources with small carbon footprint.
While everybody feels good about paper, here's another experiment or maybe a lesson plan:
If a paper bag gets maybe 3 uses if at all, how many pounds of kraft paper does that add up to over the course of 10 years ?
Simply multiply the weight of the paper bag by the number of bags per shopping trip per week X 50 weeks in a year X 10 years. The weight of the bag depends on what is known in the paper industry as "basis weight". The higher the number, the thicker and stronger the paper. A middle of the road weight is 66 pound or 0.156 pounds each. Assuming no reuse and 2 bags per week, it adds up to 15 pounds of paper ( 0.0156 X 2 X 50 X 10 = 15 pounds) per consumer.
Retailers who offer only paper bags don't care about the cost or the environmental ramifications inherent in osensibly sustainable paper production. Paper bags effectively are a hush puppy.
for the grocer -
reduces amount of space needed for storage of bags ( paper bags require 5 to 6 times more storage space than plastic )
transforms the checkout from a cost center to profit center
eliminates expensive paper bags that hog in on storage space
Let's not forget the X factor of walking billboards. Secondary uses besides storage are taking stuff to outings such as picnics and other events.
has been 29 1/2 years in the making. Here's the story:
600,000 bags made for Makro in Cincinnati, OH. Makro is a European hypermarket who has ceased operations in the US. There is a dowel rod reinforcement in the top. We made it a fund raiser by paying Sellman Elementary school families to insert the dowels manually. Proceeds were sufficient to fund version 1.0 of their media center. There were intangibles of bringing the faculty, students and families together.
As to our claim this bag will last a lifetime - I found this bag while going through my Mom's stuff after she passed in 2008. I still use it and bathe it at the car wash.
experimented with the concept of selling "slots". Our bag was the official bag for the in-store marketing expo.
It was a complete and utter failure.
Made bags with additive to make the plastic degrade by oxobiodegradable technology ( whether it biodegrades or just degrades is still very controversial ). Flawed concept because timing of failure due to degradation is a wildcard. Virtue signalling purists objected to still using fossil fuels.
All the conditions are right. Your heirs might fight over this bag.
Our first production run is scheduled for the week of March 9, 2020. Stay tuned.
Click image for a larger image.
Q. The bag tends to sag in the middle. Why don't you throw in a piece of chipboard so the bag stands up easier at the checkout ?
A. If we included a chipboard reinforcement it would drive up the cost to where we could not contribute to the Ocean Cleanup. It takes literally seconds to create your own. Turns out the ideal width is an inch narrower than a piece of typing paper. Here is a cutaway view:
Q. Why don't you include a shoulder strap ?
A. Same reason as no bottom reinforcement.
Q. Why do you not have post consumer content ? This could disqualify you for exemption.
A. For the short run, we will only use our internally generated scrap which is a by product of our manufacturing process. We make polyethylene films used for a variety of applications. We have many types of polyethylene resins which we blend to achieve specific properties. The transition between runs results in scrap.
We know what the resins are to ensure consistent performance. We generate about 10 truckloads a year. If demand exceeds, we can purchase specifc select scrap from our customers. To ensure consistent properties, we have to blend in some virgin resin. In other words, it's difficult enough to have continuity using internally generated scrap. If we utilized post consumer instead, the recycled content would be even lower. Roplast claims vary between 30 % and 60%.