December 29, 2016

Bin liners and their alternatives

We have been fortunate enough to participate in a review for Glad Bags new eco-friendly bin liners. But before we get to that part, let’s talk about our rubbish first…

I live in a small (2 bedroom) unit with 2 of us in the house. Overall our rubbish that we remove from our house is fairly low (of course it could be lower and we are trying to curb some of our very nasty habits – the plastic bags from bread I am looking at you!) and we have a worm farm that consumes a lot of our vegetable waste and we avoid buying things that come in too much packaging or packaging that cannot be recycled.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics however:

Growth in the amount of waste generated per person in Australia has been driven by a number of economic and demographic factors. A consequence of Australia’s fast-growing, materially intensive economy is the production of large quantities of waste. International evidence suggests that economic growth contributes to growth in waste generation per person (via: Productivity Commission, 2006, Inquiry Report No. 38: Waste Management.)

Yikes! Well that all makes sense I guess, but what about recycling?

In 2009, paper products were recycled and/or reused by 95% of Australian households, 94% of households recycled or reused plastic bottles, 93% recycled or reused glass, 91% cans and 90% plastic bags. In 2000, 85% of households recycled or reused paper, 81% recycled or reused plastic bottles and 82% recycled or reused glass. Only 13% of households recycled motor oil in 2009 (12% in 2000).

The proportion of households recycling organic waste (e.g. garden waste and kitchen or food waste) has also increased over time. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of households recycled garden waste in 2009, up from 60% in 2000.

Australians are among the highest users of new technology in the world. Waste from obsolete electronic goods, or “e-waste”, is one of the fastest growing waste types (via: ABS, 2006, Australia’s Environment: Issues and Trends 2006 (cat. no. 4613.0)

Okay – enough stats and lets talk about the rubbish bags and the review!

A little back story here – I actually do use rubbish bags (this is on the list of habits to kick!) and normally use BioBags which are 100% biodegradable and 100% compostable bags made from the material, Mater-Bi. BioBags contain GMO free starch, biodegradable polymer and other renewable resources. No polyethylene is used in the production process.

I did find these bags ripped quite a bit! I would try to line the bin with the bag and it would tear on contact. Maybe I am a brute when doing this but honestly it is annoying though I do persist.

This article is by no means going to be a ringing endorsement for GLAD® Degradable Plus™ or for plastic rubbish bags indeed, but as I have encountered with my own family and even friends, it is hard to kick the habit of the plastic rubbish bag!

So with that in mind, I gave them a go.

GLAD® Degradable Plus™ rubbish bags on the outside look exactly the same as other rubbish bags. They come in black or white and feel like regular rubbish bags. So what is the big deal?

Their point of difference is that they are degradable bags which means they will break down and become smaller pieces of plastic bags. wow, that sounds awful… so I looked a bit further for some more information as how this could possibly be better than your own plastic bags

What’s the difference between degradable and biodegradable?Degradable is the gradual breakdown of components of a material, as a result of a natural element, eg: heat, wind, rain. Biodegradation is the complete chemical breakdown of a material by biological activity, especially by microorganisms. GLAD® Degradable Plus™ products are oxo-biodegradables, which is a combined two stage process of degradation, followed by biodegradation.

The bags also came wrapped in a small piece of paper which is 100% recyclable and is printed with soy based inks. Yes, this is a step in the right direction.

Basically they seem to be extremely good – honestly – if you think about a bag that can absolutely hold anything. At one point during our test, my partner had a angry moment and threw a whole burnt pot of risotto into the bag and it coped very well (the bag actually coped better than my partner and his rage from burning and wasting the risotto he had labored to make for us!!).

When removing the bag to put into the rubbish bin, it held up well and really did prove to be very durable (though I personally loathe black bags – what a symbol right!? why do they make them that colour?!?? I would personally make them a nice shade of green or even transparent so you can see what you are throwing out, that is a much better reminder!)

Overall the bags have done what they say they will do – hold my rubbish and not break.

Will this bag save the environment – no. I don’t think anyone is foolish enough to think this.

Is this a step in the right direction for plastic manufacturers?  Yes, it is. I think they are working on better products that will be able to be used by every type of household.

Will I buy these bags again? Simply put, no.

There are a few reasons why not but mainly the bags are not biodegradable and I know that eventually they will end up clogging up our soils and environment. They are also more expensive then a generic brand of bag, so what kind of option is this for people of a lower income. I also plan to cut down on the amount of rubbish I have and actually use my rubbish bin properly instead of lining it, I will just put rubbish in there! bingo – easy fix! I don’t mind cleaning my small bin out with a bit of water and soap every week.

OUR TOP TIPS FOR RUBBISH REDUCTION THAT YOU SHOULD ALREADY BE DOING!

  • Choose products that have minimal packaging.
  • Choose products that have recycled material in their packaging.
  • Choose recycled products such as toilet paper and printing paper.
  • Avoid toys and household items with batteries.
  • Collect organic food scraps in the kitchen to put on the garden as compost.
  • Get a couple of hens for the household. They eat all the kitchen scraps and provide fresh eggs as a bonus.
  • Donate old magazines to doctors surgeries or share them around friends.
  • Reuse envelopes that come in the mail by placing a new address label over the last address.
  • Don’t forget to recycle old toilet rolls, they’re made of cardboard and can go straight into your kerbside recycling box.
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Comments

  1. GreenTruth says:

    It is not correct to say that these bags are not biodegradable. They contain d2w which turns ordinary plastic at the end of its useful life into a material with a completely different molecular structure. At that stage it is no longer a plastic and has become a material which can be bio-assimilated in the open environment in the same way as a leaf.
    Oxo-degradation is defined by CEN (the European Standards Organisation) in TR15351as “degradation identified as resulting from oxidative cleavage of macromolecules.” And oxo-biodegradation as “degradation identified as resulting from oxidative and cell-mediated phenomena, either simultaneously or successively.”

    Oxo-biodegradable bags are also a lot cheaper and stronger, and have a better life-cycle profile than the Biobags.
    For a video of oxo-bio plastic film degrading, go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3TGqcpWJTM

    • I don’t know much about D2W other than what is on the internet so I will have to refer readers to Beth Terry of MY PLASTIC FREE LIFE for her experience and understanding of D2W and the potential for bio-degradable bags.

      Read more here from Beth about her research of the D2W product.

      I agree with what you have said after watching the video and doing some more research that these bags are bio-degradable. I will however stand by my statement that I will not buy them again and firstly aim to change my own habits to use less rather than rely on these products.

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