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Posts Tagged ‘plastic bags’

The Carrier Carrier Company clocks up 10 years

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

We are celebrating ten years of successful trading this November.

Said Nigel Scott, Sales & Marketing Manager for the firm, “The time has certainly flown by, but it’s been a great business to be involved in. We took our very first order – for the PR firm, Grayling – in November 2001. Over the years,” continued Mr Scott, “we’ve supplied carrier bags to some of the biggest global brands including Coca-Cola, Toyota, the BBC, Moet, Shell, Disney and HSBC.”

Over the last 10 years our range of custom-printed bags has expanded to include laminated paper bags, bottle bags, twisted paper handle (kraft) paper, polythene, cotton, canvas and non-woven material. We specialise in meeting urgent orders, offering lead-times from just five working days. Says Nigel Scott, “We’re very proud of our reputation for providing exceptional service. This is why many of our clients turn to us time and time again to meet their exhibition or promotional carrier bag needs.”

We are now looking forward to the next 10 years.

Cameron warns retailers over carrier bags

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, has warned retailers to cut the number of plastic bags that they hand out or face new legislation. Although he praised various programmes aimed at reducing the number of bags from retailers in recent years, he also expressed disappointment that some valuable work had been undone in the past year. This fact was highlighted in a recent Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) report, which showed that the number of plastic bags handed out in the UK in 2010 had increased by 6% over the previous year. Mr Cameron said, “That’s unacceptable and we need to do better. I want to see the numbers going in the right direction again.”

He warned that the government might be forced to follow the lead of Eire and Wales, which have introduced a carrier bag levy to tackle the problem. Shoppers in Wales are just getting used to a charge of at least 5p for single use bags, introduced on 1 October.

“I know that retailers want to do better too but if they don’t I will be asking them to explain why not,” said Mr Cameron. “They also need to know that the government has options at its disposal – including legislating as other countries have done. We will continue to look carefully at all options in order to make sure that we further reduce the use of single use plastic bags.”

The Carrier Bag Consortium (CBC) has condemned Mr Cameron’s threats, with a spokesman saying, “In the face of massive economic pressures it is a great shame that the Prime Minister is suggesting taxing the ordinary shopper, particularly when this flies in the face of the evidence from his own Environment Agency, which proves that the lightweight plastic bag is the best environmental choice if re-used – as it is by 76% of households – or recycled.” The CBC added that, despite the small recent increase in bag usage the UK, voluntary agreement has still reduced bag consumption by more than 40%.

Winnipeg’s recycling off to a flying start!

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Many people reuse their carrier bags in inventive ways – as kitchen bin liners, somewhere to put a wet swimsuit after a dip and, of course, for collecting the inevitable when taking Fido for walkies. The ‘Take Pride Winnipeg!’ campaign takes the prize for inventiveness, however, with its recently launched programme that encourages students to collect plastic bags plastic bags for recycling into frisbees.

Dubbed ‘Bag Up Manitoba’ – after the province in which Winnipeg is located – the campaign will run during October at primary schools throughout the area. When originally launched in 2008, the programme included only schools in Winnipeg but the goal this year is to collect half a million plastic bags from 150 schools. ‘Take Pride Winnipeg!’ – a non-profit organisation committed to inspiring civic pride, raising public awareness and promoting citizen responsibility to make the city cleaner and more beautiful – is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

A taxing problem

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

The debate goes on as to whether it’s a good idea to place a tax on plastic carrier bags. Evidence seems to show that the volume of plastic carrier bags might fall when they are taxed, but that consumption of alternatives increases. According to the USA’s Packaging and Business Films Association, the result is that limited resources are consumed more quickly and more material ends up in landfill sites.

A bag tax is levied in a number of American states and there has been considerable research on the environmental effects, with many studies showing that the net result is negative through increased exhaust emissions, more congestion on the roads and more waste going to landfill.

The Republic of Ireland’s carrier bag tax led people who had been reusing plastic bags as bin liners and for collecting pet droppings to purchase heavier-gauge refuse sacks. As a result, many claimed, there was no major change in the total tonnage of plastic bags used in the country.

What’s more, manufacturers of plastic bags claim that they are less polluting than paper bags during production. Studies by Winnipeg Varsity demonstrate that plastic bag production uses only one third of the energy, results in half the pollution and needs only one eighth of the raw material required by equivalent paper bag manufacture.

Plastic bag reuse is also a strong factor in the argument. According to research by the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (defra), plastic carriers are reused by eighty percent of homes. At the end of its useful life, plastic waste can be used in several European nations for waste incineration, as the energy released has greater calorific value than coal. The plastic film industry encourages more clean incineration of waste to help reduce dependence on landfill but it must be remembered that carrier bags take up a mere 0.3% of landfill.

WRAP reveals plastics recycling breakthroughs

Monday, September 26th, 2011

WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) has revealed that it could soon be possible to recycle almost all plastic packaging waste from domestic environments. Although over 300,000 tonnes of plastic packaging is collected for recycling each year – including a large number of plastic carrier bags – more than a million tonnes ends up going to landfill sites due to the problems of collecting and recycling films, detecting and sorting black plastics and the lack of high-value markets for non-bottle plastics.

WRAP – which works in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to help businesses and individuals reap the benefits of reducing waste – has identified a type of black plastic which, unlike conventional black plastics, can be detected by sorting systems in materials recovery facilities (MRFs). In a series of trials funded by WRAP, methods have also been identified to recycle complex laminated plastics, plastic films and polypropylene (PP) – materials that would typically be destined for landfill.

The tests found that, by using non-carbon pigments in the manufacture of black plastics, it is possible to create a material that is almost identical in colour but which can be identified by the type of optical sorting equipment used in MRFs. This development, WRAP believes, could lead to the widespread recycling of the most common plastic used in packaging into high-value, single-polymer materials.

For complex laminated packaging – as used in toothpaste and cosmetics tubes – another trial has found a way to recover the layer of high-value aluminium that is sandwiched between plastics. WRAP estimates that the 140,000 tonnes of this laminated packaging in the UK waste stream has an aluminium content of around 13,500 tonnes.

A further trial has resulted in a technique that could recycle post-consumer PP back in to material suitable for food-grade applications. Further work is required, but WRAP believes this development could help to grow high-value markets for recycled PP. It could also result in significant environmental benefits as retailers begin to use it in their packaging.

Interestingly, a method has also been developed that cleans and recycles contaminated film, producing a pellet with a sales value of £400 to £500 per tonne. The cost of sending this material to landfill is currently around £80 per tonne, so WRAP says the advantages of recycling this material are clear.

Commented Marcus Gover, Director of Closed Loop Economy at WRAP, “When we first looked at recycling non-bottle plastic packaging back in 2007, we carried out detailed studies to make sure it would be technically and economical viable. We also carried out a thorough life-cycle assessment to make sure it was the best environmental option. We’re now seeing this recycling becoming a reality, creating jobs and re-invigorating the manufacturing industry in the UK, reducing our reliance on exports.” He continued, “There have been, and there are still, barriers to overcome and WRAP will continue to work closely with the industry to develop these new methods and technologies so that, in the future, local authorities can offer their residents a way of recycling even more of their plastic packaging.”

Co-op hits out at Scottish bag tax

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

The Co-operative Group has become the latest organisation in the retail sector to voice its concerns over the proposed plastic bag tax in Scotland.

Becky Toal, the group’s Environmental Programme Manager, laid out the case against the tax at an environmental committee meeting in the Scottish Parliament recently. Arguing against the proposed levy of 10p on plastic bags across Scotland, Ms Toal said that, while the Co-op backed the ethos of waste management, it feared the bag tax would have a negative overall effect on the environment and might even result in violence in its stores.

“The Co-op is committed to seeking new ways of minimising the impact of industry on the environment,” Ms Toal told the committee. “We firmly support the Scottish Executive’s desire to tackle the problem of waste and have introduced a raft of environmentally-friendly initiatives over the years to reduce the environmental impact of our trading activities.”

“The Co-operative Group and other societies trading within Scotland do not believe the current proposal is a workable solution to the challenge of minimising the environmental impact of plastic carrier bags,” she continued.

Ms Toal argued that the Co-op agreed with Scottish Retail Consortium’s view that plastic carrier bags are not a significant contributor to litter pollution. The Co-op, she explained, also agreed with the SRC that customer pressure to replace plastic bags with paper bags would undo the work of the bag levy. The SRC has argued that paper bags have a higher environmental impact in terms of production than plastic bags. In addition, as paper bags are 4-5 times more voluminous than plastic ones, more deliveries are required to get them to stores, adding to road miles, congestion and emissions.

Ms Toal also added that the Co-op feared that customers might start a backlash, with the risk of violence in stores. “Store-based colleagues would be likely to face significant customer challenge to the introduction of the levy,” she said. “The rise of physical and verbal abuse faced by many employees in the retail sector has been well charted by Usdaw in its Freedom From Fear campaign. If responsibility for communicating about the levy rests with retailers and retail employees, they would be likely to face uncertainty, at best, and annoyance, at worst, from consumers.”

Environment Agency to republish bag report

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

According to the website packagingnews.co.uk, the Environment Agency has confirmed that it expects to republish its controversial report on carrier bags on its website by the end of July.

Mystery surrounded the organisation’s decision to remove the influential and long-awaited report. Originally scheduled for publication in 2007, the report did not actually appear until February 2011 and was then removed from the EA website in April due to ‘a legal query’.

The report concluded that plastic bags are almost 200 times less damaging to the environment than the cotton bags favoured by green campaigners, and that they have less than one third of the C0₂ emissions of paper bags. Thus, in order to offset the small impact of each plastic bag, consumers would have to use the same cotton bag every working day for a year, or use paper bags at least three times before binning or recycling them. Critics of the report, however, pointed out that its findings ignore the effects of plastic bag litter.

Now an EA spokeswoman has said, “We are expecting to put the report on carrier bags back on our website at the end of July. We are making some minor changes to provide clarification on technical points but, at this stage, do not expect the conclusions to change.”

Currently the EA website carries this message: “A report commissioned by the Environment Agency shows that commonly-used plastic ‘bags for life’, if used four or more times, will have a lower carbon footprint than single-use carrier bags. We have received a legal query regarding the Report on the Life Cycle Assessment of Carrier Bags and have removed the report and the associated webpage temporarily whilst we investigate this. We will provide further information soon. Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience caused.”

Watch this space.

Branded carrier bags: a powerful weapon in the marketing arsenal

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

When it comes to promotional marketing, the options are almost limitless. Once your logo exists in a flexible and portable format – EPS or PDF, for example – there is a plethora of relatively inexpensive marketing options, from USB sticks and pens to baseball caps and cool bags.

Few, however, have the versatility and universal appeal of a printed carrier bag. Whether it’s a printed paper bag or a branded plastic bag, this product is used by both genders, all ages and every demographic. Bags are, of course, particularly useful at exhibitions or other events, where visitors or delegates tend to collect a whole bunch of materials that need to be transported home or back to the office. They can be used to carry merchandise purchased in shops or for give-aways at corporate functions, as well as for press kits at product launches. Bag users unwittingly become advertising agents as they move about, promoting your message to everyone around them.

Is there anything that you can do to enhance the power of branded bags even further? Well, yes. They have to be functional, that’s a given – so strength in construction is important. But they can also be attractive. An aesthetically pleasing or trendy design will maximise the use the recipient makes of it and promote re-use on other occasions. This means that great design and high-quality printing contribute to the environmental friendliness of carrier bags. Of course, any copywriting on the bag must sell the brand, product or concept being promoted. It should be short and sweet – and correctly spelled!

Carrier bag report removed from EA website

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Mystery surrounds the decision by the Environment Agency (EA) to remove an influential report from its website. The long-awaited report – which was scheduled for publication in 2007 but did not actually appear until February of this year – was removed from the EA website on 12 April due to ‘a legal query’. Its publication had been broadly welcomed by the packaging industry, as it concluded that cotton bags were actually no greener than plastic bags.

An EA spokeswoman recently told the website packagingnews.co.uk, “We removed the report on the Life Cycle Assessment of Carrier Bags from our website after we received a legal query regarding it. We are making some minor changes to provide clarification on technical points but, at this stage, do not expect the conclusions to change. We plan to publish it again very soon.”

The EA has not revealed the nature of the legal query, nor the identity of the organisation or individual who raised it. The report shows that HDPE bags are almost 200 times less damaging to the environment than the cotton bags favoured by green campaigners, and that they have less than one third of the C02 emissions of paper bags. Thus, in order to offset the small impact of each plastic bag, consumers would have to use the same cotton bag every working day for a year, or use paper bags at least three times before binning or recycling them. Critics of the report, however, have pointed out that its findings totally ignore the effects of plastic bag litter. All this comes at a pivotal moment, as the EU is considering a Europe-wide ban on single-use plastic bags as part of its plans to reduce the impact of plastic waste.

Retailers extend plastics recycling scheme

Monday, April 11th, 2011

The Packaging and Film Association (PAFA) has welcomed the planned collection of clean plastic film – including bags – by some of the UK’s leading high street retailers. The initiative, which is spearheaded by the British Retail Consortium (BRC), aims to recycle 645,000 tonnes of material per annum and is being backed by all the big names including Asda, the Co-op, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose.

Barry Turner, CEO of PAFA, said, “Plastic film packaging helps save food waste by protecting and preserving products and we have always had the technology to recycle it. Now, through this initiative by major retailers, the consumer has a real opportunity to boost plastic film recycling by placing film wrappings – including everything from bread bags to toilet roll and kitchen roll wrap as well as unwanted carrier bags – into the recycling bin whenever they go shopping.”

The new initiative has been made possible by the growth in the number of recycling bins for plastic carrier bags at supermarkets, which has risen to more than 4,500 collection points throughout the UK.

“In spite of the fact that local authorities are reluctant to collect thin packaging films from households or at the kerbside,” continued Barry Turner, “this retailer initiative now means that the opportunity to recover the value from lightweight protective plastic film is within everyone’s reach. It means that no-one should worry about the environmental credentials of plastic packaging in the future if they stick to the practice of reduce, re-use and recycle.”

Head of Environment at the BRC and Director of the On-Pack Recycling Label scheme, Bob Gordon, added, “This announcement shows retailers are prepared to go above and beyond what is expected of them to support customers’ environmental efforts. We know many consumers want to do their bit for the planet and this move will be a big help.”