Completing the Cycle - Biodegradable Plastic Shopping Bags

compostable-plastic-bagPlastic shopping bags are a world-wide blight. Millions are used daily. The best thing that can happen to them is that they end up in land fill, which is bad enough. Worse, a huge proportion of them end up as eyesores along roadways. Many of them end up choking wildlife to death.

"Biodegradable" bags have been available for some time, but although the are degradable, the "bio" part is missing. They break down in to a plastic powdered - hardly biodegradable (although less likely to choke wildlife).

There is now a truly biodegradable plastic bag, that you can literally bury, and it will turn in to compost. It has been adopted by Mountain Equipment Coop, with great success. It is made by biobag in Canada.

bio-pag-LifeCycleAs a sanity check, lets look at the big picture - the life-cycle and resource-cycle of this bag.

It is made mostly of plant-based materials. The primary energy input into the raw resources therefore, is solar. According to the company website, it is made of corn start, and synthetic polymers.

Theoretically, the bags could be composted in a field used to grow corn, and the corn used to make more plastic bags. In reality, there isn't the direct connection, but the points that material taken out of the biosphere is put back into it, with the primary energy source being solar.

Are they perfect? No, there does seem to be some synthetic materials added. Also, commercial corn production used a tremendous amount of petrochemical-based fertilizer and pesticides.

Perfect, no, but it is a huge step in the right direction. It greatly reduces reliance on energy- and resource-intensive petrochemicals. Theoretically, it could do even better using corn grown without chemical fertilizers.

According to the BioBag website, the greenhouse gasses involved in producing this bag are much less than paper or plastic:


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